Grains Research and Development

Date: 23.08.2013

GRDC changes focus in barley crop investment

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) will change its focus in barley crop investment, giving the commercial sector access to important genetic material developed by the outgoing southern barley breeding program, to enable the best possible advancements in variety development.

The move follows a detailed assessment of the barley breeding environment and discussions with the University of Adelaide which has been GRDC’s partner in barley breeding for the past 11 years.

GRDC Acting Executive Manager Commercial Business Group, Dr Andreas Betzner, said:  “In recent years we have seen a significant increase in private investment in barley breeding which has led to the development of new varieties with high yields, favourable quality profiles and improved resistance to diseases.

“Given the level of that private investment and the conclusions of a review in 2009, which highlighted the viability of commercial barley breeding, the future of breeding programs will be best served by a commercial model, funded by End Point Royalties,” he said.

“This framework will allow GRDC to divert funds to other areas of research that increase crop productivity and overall profits for farmers and ultimately deliver the best possible outcomes to growers.”

Dr Betzner said the key focus for GRDC now was to work with the University of Adelaide to make sure that the right licensing framework is put into place to determine access rights and pave the way for the best possible advancements in variety traits.

“We plan to call for expressions of interest to licence germplasm for crossing and/or commercial use. This will ensure the continuity of barley breeding and, at the same time, enhance competition in the area.

“GRDC and the University of Adelaide will retain co-ownership of all existing lines and will share End Point Royalty income. For GRDC, this will mean more funds for reinvestment into critical research areas,” said Dr Betzner.

The University of Adelaide will also use some existing genetic material as part of its new breeding focus. The UA has just announced a restructure to its existing barley breeding program to invest its own money in cutting-edge science that will deliver germplasm advancements.

Dr Betzner said: “Getting the transition framework right is essential for the industry and we are currently finalising the details of that transition plan. We hope to be in a position to call for expressions of interest in the near future.”

ENDS

For more information, visit the University of Adelaide website.

Media contacts

Jane O’Brien, GRDC Communication Manager
Phone 02 61664565 or 0477 708 791

Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
Phone 0409 675100

Region National, North, South, West