Food for thought at 2019 Narrabri PBI field day

Author: | Date: 10 Sep 2019

image of Steve Jefferies
GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies will be talking about ongoing investment in research, development and extension in north western NSW and beyond as part of the 2019 field days at the IA Watson Research Centre at Narrabri. Photo GRDC.

Sorghum bread, gluten-free and earthy tasting native grains, drought resistant Indian mustard and the improved production of quality grain legumes will be ‘food for thought’ at the IA Watson Grains Research Centre’s annual field day in Narrabri on September 18.

The centre is one arm of the Plant Breeding Institute, under the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at The University of Sydney.

In partnership with the Wheat Research Foundation (WRF) – which owns and governs the site – and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the university conducts a wide range of grains related research in collaboration with Australian and international organisations.

The focus of the 2019 field day is ‘food for thought’ – building on grain consumers’ increasing interest in food provenance. 

IA Watson Grains Research Centre Director Richard Trethowan said the field day would offer information on the latest research aimed at improving consumers’ food experience, with a focus on areas such as origin, production method, nutritional value and taste.

“The centre is a hub for grains research in north western New South Wales and our partnerships ensure that the knowledge, technology and genetic materials developed nationally and globally are accessed to the benefit of local grain growers,” Professor Trethowan said.

“With the support of Sydney University, the WRF and the GRDC, the depth and breadth of research and training here has expanded over the years to include everything from digital agriculture and soils-based research to crop pre-breeding, genetics and agronomy. 

“Our long-term commitment is to research the major issues facing agriculture in Australia, particularly in i north western New South Wales.”

Professor Trethowan said the centre’s partnership with crop breeding companies was another vital component of delivering research to the grains industry.

“While some traits developed through breeding programs here may not be immediately apparent to the producer or consumer, such as enhanced mineral or vitamin concentrations, others like smell, taste or processing quality are integral to our experience of food,” he said.

GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies will also be a guest speaker at the field day.

Dr Jefferies said the GRDC was firmly focused on delivering enduring profitability for Australian grain growers, and understanding producer and consumer and needs and preferences was critical in helping to deliver on this purpose.

“The GRDC is committed to delivering transformational impact on grain grower profitability, and to do this we need to invest in research and development that improves farming practices and varieties in ways that meet the needs of end users and ultimately benefit growers,” he said.

“Through the implementation of our new five-year RD&E Plan we are looking to continuously lift grower profitability through technologies and solutions that can overcome even the most onerous production and market constraints.

“Within the GRDC’s RD&E Plan there are 30 Key Investment Targets (KITs), and the first 15 of 30 KIT strategy summaries are now available, and can be found on the GRDC website at

“The strategy summaries will be complemented by more detailed KIT strategy documents which will be released on the GRDC website in coming months.”

The IA Watson Grains Research Centre annual field day is on September 18 from 12-5pm. The centre is located at 12656 Newell Highway at Narrabri. Entry for the event is via Killarney Gap Road.

Topics and highlights on the agenda include:

  • Complimentary barbecue at 12-1pm sponsored by Australian Grain Technologies
  • Michael Klausen, co-founder of Brassiere Bread and winner of the 2018 Royal Agricultural Society’s President’s Medal, talking about grain quality and the importance of food provenance.
  • GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies talking about ongoing research, development and extension investment in north western NSW and beyond.
  • The 4 Pines Brewing Company with specially crafted beer made from University of Sydney-bred triticale grain.
  • Heat and drought tolerant wheat, chickpeas and hybrid wheat.
  • Future farming: automated detection of ryegrass in wheat, soil moisture sensing and robotic farming.

The event is open to all. To register, visit Plant Breeding Institute Field Day 2019 or call 02 6799 2200.

Contact Details


Toni Somes, GRDC
0436 622 645