Our purpose is to invest in Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) to create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
Most, if not all, of our investments deliver profitability or economic benefits.
Aligned with the ‘enduring’ element of our purpose, we recognise that the grains industry can’t have ongoing profitability without:
- healthy soil, water and air needed to produce crops,
- strong rural communities in which grain growers live and operate, and
- trust of domestic and international consumers, finance markets and governments.
Hence, we are committed to investing in RD&E that empowers and informs growers to enhance the environmental and social impacts of grain production.
We are proactively positioning our investment in RD&E to provide further support to growers to achieve sustainability outcomes that enhance:
- their business
- the grains industry
- the environment
- the broader community.
GRDC Sustainability Initiative
In 2022, our Board established an internal Sustainability Initiative with the primary objective of developing an overall analysis of sustainability issues and opportunities for the grains industry, and a pipeline of GRDC investments in RD&E that support increased delivery of sustainability outcomes.
While it is not GRDC’s role to set sustainability targets for Australian grain growers, we will support the broader industry to understand realistic sustainability metrics that can be used to monitor change. In this regard, we will work closely with ongoing work by the National Farmers’ Federation and other stakeholders in primary industries.
We will progress an RD&E investment plan that empowers growers to create enduring profitability by:
Managing the environment and social impacts of production, in particular their greenhouse gas emissions
Maintaining the natural capital (natural assets including soil, air, water and all living things) that supports their businesses
Meeting expectations of government, community and financial and consumer markets
Sustainability considers economic, environmental and social outcomes from human endeavour. These are often referred to as the triple bottom line or the three P's:
The Australian grains industry has excellent ‘clean, green and ethical’ credentials, with high levels of community trust. For example, recent work has highlighted our low greenhouse gas emissions intensity relative to international producers (greenhouse gas emissions).
Improving the ability of grain growers and industry to demonstrate the credentials of their production systems will support ongoing market and financial access, present opportunities for differentiation and leverage our strengths.
GRDC investment aims to enhance economic sustainability and deliver environmental outcomes.
A report commissioned by GRDC in 2022 found around a quarter of our current investment portfolio, or 162 investments totalling $202 million, were identified as having a direct environmental impact if the outputs and practices developed were adopted by growers. Most of these investments are focused on improved management of weeds, diseases and pests, reduced reliance on pesticides, biosecurity and, to a lesser extent, enhancing soil health.
In addition, a significant proportion of investments have indirect benefits to environmental outcomes. Many of our investments contribute (either directly or indirectly) to social capital, in terms of creating employment, infrastructure, training and capacity development and enhancing community trust.
A focus on sustainability
To ensure RD&E is directed to areas of greatest need and impact, GRDC will continue to invest in four priority areas for sustainability, in addition to existing work on crop protection/reduced reliance on pesticides/biosecurity, and soil health.
The priority areas will be used to develop investments that tackle sustainability challenges. This renewed emphasis on sustainability is reflected in the new priorities for the 2023-2028 RD&E Plan, especially the ‘Thrive for Future Generations’ pillar.
Our RD&E Plan 2023-28 is the key document that guides our investment. Sustainability is a critical component of our new plan.
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