New grains research deal

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Image of heads of wheat

A bilateral agreement between the GRDC and Curtin University will focus the university’s wheat fungus expertise onto reducing disease.

PHOTO: Brad Collis

The GRDC is embarking on a program of bilateral agreements with key research providers to maximise the grains research capabilities of different centres across the country. The objective is to increase grains research effectiveness and provide a basis for research bodies to make the necessary investments in leading-edge technologies.

The first such bilateral agreement is between the GRDC and Curtin University in Western Australia: a five-year agreement to establish the Centre for Crop and Disease Management. Under the agreement both the GRDC and Curtin University will contribute funding for research projects. Curtin University will also invest $68 million in infrastructure and funds.

Curtin University already plays a major role in reducing the impact of costly crop diseases through its Australian Centre for Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens.

GRDC chair Richard Clark notes that wheat diseases alone cost growers on average about $913 million a year – more than $76 per hectare of production.

“Targeted research, development and extension to reduce production losses in this area is critical,” he says. “This innovative approach and focused effort by the GRDC and Curtin University will increase the efficiency of investment to deliver sustainable crop disease management by providing key strategic research capability.”

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry says the new bilateral agreement with the GRDC is a substantial investment in crop and disease management. The scope of research will cover world-leading molecular biology and follow this through on-farm impacts on gross margins and farm-management practices.

The GRDC is also in talks with other research bodies. The bilateral agreements are in line with the National Grains RD&E Strategy, which sees researcher collaborations as necessary for achieving several key objectives:

  • efficient RD&E delivery; 
  • access to key strategic capability through research organisations with specialist expertise;
  • to build and maintain capability and capacity;
  • to leverage off key capabilities;
  • to streamline the contracting process and reduce transaction costs; and
  • to ensure researchers are responsive and flexible in responding to industry needs.

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GRDC Project Code CUR00023

Region West