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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2016-17
KEY RESULTS DURING 2016/17 Improving wool’s environmental footprint ratings • The scientific robustness of measurement of wool’s environmental footprint has significantly improved through the contribution of AWI’s Technical Advisory Group, comprising leading Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) experts. A number of technical studies seeking to more accurately categorise wool’s environmental impact across life cycle stages are well progressed. • Wool’s ranking relative to other fibre types has remained stable, with all natural fibres faring poorly compared to synthetic fibres due to the immature and incomplete nature of sustainability assessment by the apparel ratings agencies. AWI continues to engage with the LCA industry and ratings agencies to address the flaws and limitations in the current ratings tools. Increasing adoption of beneficial feedbase practices • Good progress has been made on understanding constraints to pasture investment through AWI’s Feedbase Panel with forums held in Esperance, Participants in AWI’s Feedbase Advisory Forum near Esperance in Western Australia, standing in one of woolgrower Tom Pengilly’s vetch paddocks recently cut for hay, looking at another of his vetch paddocks. Hard seeded legumes are not only proving to be robust performers in tough WA conditions, but are also putting essential nitrogen back into nutrient deficient soils. Albury and Broken Hill over the past year. A targeted woolgrower survey is being developed and will shortly be conducted to give further insights into these barriers and how they may be overcome. An extension program will then be developed to better align feedbase availability with the livestock reproduction cycle. The pilot for this program will be completed by mid-2018. Preparing woolgrowers for the effects of climate change • AWI has been investing in the development of novel legumes over the past five years that are well adapted to soils in mixed farming areas in southern NSW, Victoria, SA and WA. In particular they: o produce quality stockfeed to fill feed gaps o fix abundant nitrogen o are harvestable with conventional machinery to minimise seed costs o have suitable seed dormancy to enable summer sowing and natural regeneration after crops, and o tolerate cropping herbicides, legume diseases and pests. The compatibility of these legumes with cropping systems is contributing to the re-introduction of livestock to these areas. • A collaborative project with other RDCs to increase the adoption of these novel legumes over one million hectares in the low and medium rainfall areas has recently been approved for funding by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme. Each dollar invested by AWI will be matched by $21 from other parties over the 5-year term of this project. • Further projects are being initiated to assess mitigating and adapting technologies associated with the co-innovation concept as well as the economic and environmental benefits associated with the introduction of cluster fencing. FIBRE ADVOCACY INVESTMENT FOCUS • Challenging the widespread misconception that wool is an allergen and demonstrating that suitably selected fine Merino products are healthy for the skin, especially for those with the most sensitive skin. • Developing scientific evidence to support sleeping on or under wool bedding, or in Merino sleepwear. • Improve the technical basis and the wool trade’s ability to specify fabrics for health applications across a range of climatic applications, with assistance from technical experts. • Establish partnership with international funding and research institutions, to internationalize the outcomes and program impact. STRATEGIC TARGETS Targets for three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19 Progress during 2016/17 1. Internationalize studies demonstrating that Merino base-layer garments ameliorate chronic skin conditions associated with microclimate management of the skin. On target. One study is under way in the USA and negotiations are under way for studies in other countries. 2. Demonstrate that wool bedding and sleepwear improves sleeping conditions. On target. A clinical study of wool sleepwear will be finalised this calendar year. 32 REPORT OF 2016/17 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION
AWI Annual Report 2015-16