Wheat and grain research funding to secure Australia's future

Published: 1 September 2020

Wheat and grain research funding to secure Australia's future

Research that could boost drought tolerance of wheat, help growers better control weeds and develop robotic farming technology for use across Australia will be undertaken in Narrabri, thanks to a $9.45 million NSW Government grant to build new laboratories and facilities.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Sam Farraway MLC today visited the IA Watson Research Centre at Narrabri, where 40 new research positions will be created, along with construction jobs, as part of the development of a state-of-the-art International Crop and Digital Agriculture Research Centre.

Mr Barilaro said the new research facility will include genetic and agronomy laboratories, a modern office and digital and robotic workspaces that will help attract new research opportunities and support the 40,000 field plots that grow the crops being researched.

“We’ve seen the devastating impacts that this record drought has had on farmers and communities across regional NSW and the research that will be undertaken at this new facility will help boost our resilience to future dry spells,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This research will center around adapting crops for drought tolerance, providing food security solutions and boosting productivity of farmers.”

Mr Farraway said the project will provide the agricultural sector with greater certainty about the future and create employment opportunities to the region.

“This facility will bring new skilled jobs to Narrabri, along with national and international visiting researchers using the onsite 250-person conference facilities creating flow on effects for the local economy and boosting accommodation and hospitality trade,” Mr Farraway said.

“This research is great news for farmers, as the outcome will be breeding more robust crops which creates better resilience for the future and boosts confidence, productivity and investment in wheat production, in turn securing Narrabri’s long-term future.”

Grains Research Development Corporation Chair John Woods said an additional $1 million had been invested on behalf of grain growers in partnership with NSW Government, while the University of Sydney and Wheat Research Foundation had contributed another $1.5 million to improve and expand the vital research facilities.

“We appreciate the NSW Government recognising the need for an industry-led approach to improving and expanding the research capacity of the IA Watson Centre, one of the state’s oldest, most strategically important and successful centres,” Mr Woods said.

“With our long-standing relationships with each partner, we are pleased to contribute to this opportunity where, on behalf of our growers, we can co-invest in a $12 million facility, and deliver long-term research outcomes in northern NSW and benefit Australian grain growers.

“The continued development of this state-of-the-art research centre will encourage collaboration between researchers, growers and other industry stakeholders and play an integral part in helping the grains sector meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

Professor Iain Young, Dean of Science at the University of Sydney, said the University of Sydney is committed to supporting agriculture in regional NSW.

“This funding is evidence of the great success of the University’s partnership program with industry and commitment to regional Australia and agriculture,” Mr Young said.

Director of the University of Sydney Institute Of Agriculture, Professor Alex McBratney said: the funding is a wonderful reaffirmation by the NSW Government of the long-term importance of science and its role in the regeneration of agriculture and regional communities.

“The University of Sydney has 60 years of scientific effort at Narrabri. The new International Crop and Digital Agricultural Research Centre will ensure a strong and lasting future for cutting-edge agricultural research and industry outreach,” Mr McBratney said.

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