GRDC Research Scholarship


GRDC Research Scholarship


Release Date

Friday 27 September 2019

Closing Time

3 pm AEST, Wednesday 13 November 2019

Offer Period

Tenders will remain open for acceptance by the GRDC for a period of 6 months after the Closing Time.

Deadline for Submission of Enquiries

5 pm AEST, Tuesday 5 November 2019

Document Contact and Enquiries

Attention: Tegan Slade

Grains Research and Development Corporation


Electric Lodgement of Applications

Applicants must submit their responses electronically through the Grains Investment Portal at

Please be advised, the outcome of the GRDC Research Scholarship will be released early January 2020

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.

The GRDC is focused on delivering value to Australian grain growers. To achieve this, the GRDC seeks to build research capacity through the GRDC Research Scholarships for students undertaking a PhD.

The GRDC Research Scholarships (GRS) are available to undertake post-graduate research in areas of priority for the GRDC and the Australian grains industry. These scholarships are awarded based on the:

  • academic excellence of the applicant;
  • relevance of proposed research to the GRDC priority areas; and
  • evidence of industry endorsement, contribution or involvement.


Applications will be submitted through the Grains Investment Portal –

Applications are due by 3pm AEST, Wednesday 13 November 2019

Key things to note

  • The application must address one of the listed GRDC priority areas
  • Proposals should be aligned with GRDC’s Key Investment Targets and should ultimately contribute to creating enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
  • The application must be completed by the student (as opposed to the supervisor)
  • The institution must endorse the application
  • The agreement will be between the GRDC and the institution
  • It is anticipated that the agreement will start in line with the first semester of study.
  • It is anticipated that the GRDC will invest in 12 GRDC Research Scholarships (GRS) in this round.


The Scholarship Awards are offered based on a set of eligibility and selection criteria:

Eligibility Criteria: are conditions applicants have to fulfil to be eligible to apply for the scholarships. These are used to determine if the applicant should be considered by the GRDC.

Selection Criteria: are the items against which applications will be evaluated. Each criterion is assigned certain points which are summed to rank the applicants in each advertised investment area.

Please note applications are invited from:

  • applicants who qualify for a Commonwealth funded Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship; and
  • applicants who do not qualify for an RTP but have demonstrated a commitment to grains R&D and are likely to pursue a career in the Australian grains industry.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria are:

  • Australian citizenship or permanent residency
  • Admitted into full time post-graduate study
  • At least two satisfactory referee reports, including from proposed principal supervisor
  • Proposal aligned with the GRDC priority areas
  • Indication of Research Training Programs (RTP) scholarship status (approved, awaiting application assessment, non-RTP)
  • For non-RTP applicants – confirmation from the institution that they will contribute the operating funds

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria No.




Strong academic record (at least an upper second-class honours at graduation or a MSc in a relevant field) as demonstrated through academic transcripts.

For non-RTP applications demonstration of their involvement and commitment to the Australian grains industry and how undertaking a PhD will provide additional skills and capacity to the Australian grains industry.



Demonstrated research ability of the applicant.



A clear and thorough research proposal including details on:

  • hypothesis / scientific questions
  • method (including anticipated statistical analysis capacity)
  • timelines
  • resources
  • a description of how operating and travel budget will be spent



An annual budget showing the:

  • allocation of operating, travel and salary expenses
  • potential investment from all parties



Alignment of the proposal with the GRDC priority areas and a description of how the research proposal will improve the profitability of Australian grain growers.



Evidence of industry endorsement, participation, or consultation during the design of the project.



Demonstrated track record of the supervisor(s) as a researcher(s) in the area of study and in successful postgraduate student completions.



Capacity, track record and reputation of the academic unit supporting the student.



Communication and delivery plan describing ongoing industry engagement in the project.



For those candidates who achieve a RTP scholarship, the GRDC will offer a top up scholarship to the value of 75% of the base RTP; $5,000 per annum travel to attend conferences, workshops or skills development; and $10,000 per annum operating.

For those candidates who don’t receive a RTP scholarship, the GRDC will offer a scholarship at 75% of the combined value of base RTP and the GRDC top up. The institution will need to contribute at least $10,000 operating which includes travel.

The GRDC Research Scholarship is a set annual amount for a maximum of 3 years.


With RTP

Without RTP  










$10,000 (contributed by the institution)

Additional travel or training






Annual GRDC investment



GRDC Priority Areas

Scholarship applications will be considered in the following areas of priority to the GRDC and its stakeholders. The priority areas are a subset of the Key Investment Targets in the GRDC Research Development and Extension Plan 2018-23.

GRDC RDE Plan objectiveKey investment targetsGRDC priority areas
1 Improve yield and yield stability1.1 Minimise the impact of high temperature at flowering and grain fill on grain yield and stability.A. Establish the relationship between high temperature at flowering and grain fill and yield in key grain crops.
 1.2 Minimise the impact of spring radiation frost on grain yield and stability

B. Establish the relationship between low temperature at flowering and yield in key grain crops.

 1.3 Change fundamental plant architecture, physiology and/or biochemistry to maximise water-limited yield potential in wheat, barley, canola and sorghum.

C. Identify mechanisms for wheat, barley, canola and sorghum plants to:

D. Capture more water for use in transpiration

E. Exchange transpired water for assimilated carbon more effectively

F. Convert more of the produced biomass into grain.

 1.5 Reduce the gap between actual and potential grain yield through more informed and timely decision making.

G. Characterise the effect of environmental variables on crop growth; development (phenology); water-use; canopy development and phase development of key grain crops.

H. Investigate the role of multi-species cropping impact on nutrition and water use efficiency on yield.

 1.6 Reduce the impacts of water repellence, compaction, hard-pans and other barriers to the capture and storage of water in soils.I. Growers have access to field diagnostic tools that efficiently and effectively measure the severity of soil constraints impacting water capture and storage.
 1.7 Reduce the impacts of soil salinity and sodicity on plant water uptake to improve grain yield and stability.

J. Investigate material that can maintain open pore structures in sodic soils.

K. Design novel strategies to cost effectively manage saline and sodic soils

L. Better understand the role of organic matter in development soil porosity, and interactions with root growth.

 1.8 Reduce the impacts of low pH, aluminium toxicity and other nutrient toxicities on plant water uptake to improve grain yield and stability.H.

M. The role of sub-soil organic   matter on reducing aluminium toxicity in low pH soils.

N. Understand the interaction of soil   chemistry and pulse crop nodulation in low pH soils.

O. Explore novel ways of addressing   subsoil acidity

P. Develop ways to reduce soil   acidification rates as a result of crop production.

3 Optimise input costs3.1 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing weeds

Q. Quantify the implications of implementing integrated weed management in pulse crops.

R. Develop novel approaches to quantify weed impacts on grain cropping systems

S. Understanding the ecology of wild oats for their management in early sown sorghum

T. Understanding changes in seasonality of key northern grain cropping weeds.

U. Quantification of invasion Pathway risks for grains weeds.

 3.2 Generate more informed, accurate and timely input for decision making.

V. Development of new approaches to extract greater value from existing on-farm data layers (especially harvester yield data and digital elevation models) to support strategic and/or tactical decision making on-farm.

W. Development of methods to fuse outputs of agronomic models with remotely sensed imagery and/or weather forecasts to support more accurate tactical decision making.

X. Development of dynamic modelling methods to optimise on-farm operations and logistics to reduce input costs.

 3.3 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing diseases.

Y. Understand the biology, ecology and severity of Phytoplasma disease in legume crops.

Z. Improving experimental methodology for soilborne pathogens with spatial variability, especially Pratylenchus quasitereoides in winter cereals

AA. Understand the epidemiology and host pathogen interaction in the sorghum / Macrophomina pathosystem..

BB. Quantification of invasion Pathway risks for grains disease (e.g wheat blast).

 3.4 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing vertebrate and invertebrate pests.

CC. Improved mouse management in northern cropping   systems – better understanding of mouse dynamics in the northern systems,   including crop mix and stages (mungbean, corn, wheat and barley, sorghum,   chickpea); harbourages; monitoring, detection and predictions; timing of bait   application and strategies

DD. Understanding the biology, ecology and severity   of Rutherglen bug – crop establishment/yield and impact on quality in key   crops (mungbean, sorghum, fababean, canola, chickpea)

EE. Understanding the biology and ecology of   emerging grains pests (incl. slaters, slugs, millipedes, mandalotus, pigs) –   including lifecycles, triggers for incursion from other areas of crop/non   crop, in crop and fallow, summer management, predictions/monitoring.

FF. Economics of non-crop management for insect   pest control –a more robust understanding of the potential benefits of both   short- and long-term insect pest management strategies, comparing the farm   scale economics of approaches that boost ecosystem services of biological   control with conventional pesticide applications.

GG. Quantification of invasion Pathway risks for   grains pests (e.g. fall army worm).

 3.5 Develop technology to reduce fertiliser manufacture and/or application costs and improve fertiliser use efficiency.HH. Increase the efficiency of applied fertiliser to better match crop demand.
4 Reduce post-farm-gate costs4.3 Improve the reliability and cost effectiveness of on-farm grain storage to reduce handling costs and capture market opportunities.II. Deploy technologies for on-farm grain quality testing and supply chain traceability.
 4.4 Improve automation of transport and handling activities and/or alternative logistics and distribution models to realise greater value capture by growers.JJ. Identify opportunities where greater profit could be partitioned to growers across the value chain using blockchain technologies.

5 Manage risk to maximise profit and minimise losses

5.1 Improve the accuracy of short-range and medium range weather forecasts

KK. Quantifying the potential economic value of new and tailored weather forecast products (i.e. not currently operationalised) to the Australian grains industry.

 5.2 Understand grain grower decision-making and the drivers for adoption of new technology

LL. Using behavioural sciences to understand the factors that influence the rate of adoption of new practices by Australian Grain Growers

MM. Development of metrics to measure the impact and rate of adoption of new knowledge, technology and practices

Core frameworksData management and analyticsNN. Develop technologies and analytics to analyse complex and spatial data sets.


The GRS will be contracted on a GRDC Research Scholarship Agreement.

Expected outputs

  1. A critical literature review on the topic of research within three (3) months of contracting
  2. A comprehensive research plan (including communication and grower engagement plan) within 2 months of contracting
  3. At least one conference/journal paper per year from the second year onwards
  4. An electronic copy of the thesis submitted to the institution for examination


Questions and Answers

Q1: As a 2nd year PhD student, am I eligible to apply?

A1: Yes, students that have already commenced their studies are eligible to apply. However, the scholarship funding will be on a pro rata basis.

Q2: A potential applicant has applied for permanent residency and it has been approved as “provisional resident”, the period of stay has been granted as indefinite and there are no restrictions on study. Is the student eligible to apply for the GRDC Research Scholarship?

A2: As noted in the Frequently Asked Questions, students awaiting the outcome of their permanent residency application are not eligible to apply for the GRDC Research Scholarship.

Q3: I am applying for an RTP Scholarship later this month but will not find out if I am successful until December, well after the due date for the GRDC Scholarship. Am I able to apply for the GRDC Scholarship with my RTP Scholarship awaiting assessment?

A3: Students are eligible to apply whilst awaiting the outcome of the RTP. If the GRDC Research Scholarship application were to be successful, confirmation of the RTP status would be required before the contract could be drawn up.

Q4: If I was unsuccessful in obtaining the GRDC Scholarship this year, would that be taken into consideration if I were to apply again next year?

A4: Students that are unsuccessful in obtaining a GRDC Research Scholarship are eligible to apply again in following years, ensuring that the project aligns with a GRDC Priority Area. Previous submissions will not be considered in the evaluation process.

Q5: Will the applications for the GRDC Scholarship be open again next year at the same time? (i.e. is there an early round next year)

A5: The GRDC website will have the latest information regarding the next release date for the GRDC Research Scholarship, we encourage you to keep checking this web page or subscribe to GRDC to receive email notifications,

Q6: In the section “Key things to note”; it is written that the Institution must endorse the application. By that means, will I need to get any type of letter from the institution where I am pursuing my doctoral degree?

A6: To demonstrate endorsement from the institution could be done in two ways: 1. A letter of support from the institution endorsing the proposed research; or 2. An authorised person from the institution completes the acknowledgements of the application and submits on behalf of the student.

Q7: Is there any specific format for the research proposal and resume for the GRDC application to submit as I cannot see from your website? I only find a referee report in GRDC specific format.

A7: The application is to be submitted online through the Grains Investment Portal. The portal has fields that will capture the intention/methodology of the research proposal, please see the user guides for more information. The support button in the portal will assist with any other queries relating to the submission of the application.

Q8: Can I get a referee report from a person whose institution is not based in Australia?

A8: Yes, referee reports can come from personnel that are not based at the institution that you will be conducting the study through.

Q9: Should I attach my research proposal and budget as separate documents, or do I copy and paste them directly under their respective headings?

A9: All fields in the application need to be completed with the appropriate information (noting that there are character limits). The research proposal and budget can be attached to the application as supporting documentation.

Q10: Do I include referee reports with my application or do my referees provide them to the GRDC directly?

A10: The referee reports need to be submitted with the application through the Grains Investment Portal. As per the Eligibility Criteria, applications will not be accepted without at least two referee reports.

Q11: How do I demonstrate the track record & capacity of my supervisor and academic unit? Could I provide a link to their researcher profile, for instance?

A11: Provide a short written response on the track record of the supervisor and academic unit including any high impact publications. A link to their researcher profile can be provided as supporting information.

Q12: What do I include under the three headings, ‘Methodology’, ‘Delivery Pathway’, and ‘Capability Statement’? Are these re-iterations of the research proposal, delivery plan and demonstration of supervisor/academic unit, or something else entirely?

A12: Methodology: How the research will be undertaken, specific techniques and procedures. Delivery Pathway: How the research undertaken will be delivered to industry groups (e.g. growers, breeding companies, pre-breeders, other researchers). Capability Statement: Demonstrate the capability and skills of the applicant.

Q13: Please advise on what is required from the following text boxes found in the application under References:

  • "A statement on your most significant contribution"
  • "Other evidence of impact and contribution to this"
  • "Detail your research experience"

A13: The non-mandatory text boxes under the heading References in the online application pertain to the referees that have been listed. Please note, that this is for information only and will not be assessed.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an overseas student studying at an Australian University. Am I eligible to apply?

I am due to finish a bachelor’s degree in science, agriculture or a relevant discipline at an Australian University at the end of this year. Am I eligible to apply?

As a supervisor am I eligible to apply for any of the scholarships in anticipation of attracting a student later?

What awards are considered equivalents of Research Training Program award?

Can I get an extension if I am unable to submit my application by the due date?

How do I demonstrate industry input or involvement in my project proposal?

I did not achieve a 1st Class or upper 2nd Class honours, am I eligible to apply for GRS?

Can I submit more than one application?

If I am currently employed in a GRDC project, am I eligible to apply for a GRS?

Can I apply for scholarship to study part-time?

I have a RTP, what is covered under the addition travel training amount?