News in brief

Growers guiding frost research agenda

Growers from across Australia are playing a guiding role in shaping the research direction of the GRDC’s National Frost Initiative (NFI). Six growers from the southern, western and northern cropping regions have been appointed to the NFI’s steering committee, which also includes consultants and scientists. With years of experience managing frost in their own farming environments, the growers bring a comprehensive range of advice and support to the NFI, which is a multidisciplinary program to mitigate the effects of frost.

GRDC general manager of genetic technologies Dr Juan Juttner says grower engagement is pivotal to ensuring the NFI’s research focus remains relevant and aligned with grower needs.

“By having grower representation on the NFI steering committee, we know the frost-related issues confronting our grain producers are being captured and that the GRDC’s investment in research, development and extension is addressing key concerns with practical outcomes,” Dr Juttner says.

The three-pronged initiative is based on the following approaches:

  • genetics – aiming to develop more frost-tolerant varieties
  • management – investigating if there are preventive products, stubble and nutrition management practices or other measures that growers can implement to reduce the impact of frost
  • environmental prediction – focusing on predicting the impact of frost events on crop yields and mapping frost events at the farm scale to enable better risk management  

More information:

Dr Juan Juttner,
02 6166 4500

GRDC National Frost Initiative

Ground Cover Supplement – Frost

Grains research merger

GrainGrowers’ Sydney-based technical and analytical services – formerly the Bread Research Institute (BRI) – have been transferred to the Perth-based Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC).

The transfer will consolidate Australia’s grain quality and processing R&D efforts. It will also expand AEGIC’s technical capacity for baking and provide the body with a substantial east-coast presence.

GrainGrowers chief executive officer Alicia Garden says that when GrainGrowers acquired BRI in 2009, AEGIC had not been established: “Now AEGIC plays an important role in applying science to ensure our grains continue to produce the noodles, breads, cakes, pastries and other products our customers require,” she says.

“This transfer will increase the efficiency of Australian baking research by ensuring AEGIC and GrainGrowers are not duplicating industry services.”

AEGIC chair Terry Enright says the legacy of BRI would continue under AEGIC: “This is a fantastic opportunity for AEGIC to build on the successes of the GrainGrowers technical team and benefit from their significant expertise.”

“The combination of AEGIC’s west-coast operation and the team at North Ryde will create one of Australia’s largest grain research laboratories.”

AEGIC was established in 2012 by the GRDC and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, to support the trade and use of Australian grain through science, technology and innovation.

More information:

Laureta Wallace,
0457 589 703,

Rust research honour

Professor Robert Park

Regular 'Ground Cover' contributor and cereal rust researcher Professor Robert Park has been named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

Professor Park is director of the GRDC’s Australian Cereal Rust Control Program and the Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute. In that capacity, his work underpins the estimated $1 billion benefit that rust-resistance breeding contributes annually to the Australian cereals industry. He continues a long tradition of excellence in cereal rust research at the University of Sydney that dates back to the 1920s.

Most recently, Professor Park’s team contributed to an international research project that isolated a gene, Lr67, first described as conferring resistance to all three rust diseases in the 1980s by Canadian scientist Peter Dyck. With his election as a Fellow, Professor Park joins 800 eminent Australians whose work has helped lift Australia’s prosperity through technological innovation.

More information:


University of Sydney

International Wheat Yield Partnership

A dinner has been held in Canberra for the International Wheat Yield Partnership. See Australia leads global effort to break wheat yield ceiling.

GRDC chair Richard Clark (right) thanks guests at the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) dinner in Canberra. (From left) IWYP representative Dr Richard Flavell from the US, Australian researcher Dr Stuart Roy (University of Adelaide), IWYP representative Steve Visscher (UK) and panel moderator Glenda Korporaal from 'The Australian' newspaper.

Business in Indonesia

An Australian grains industry delegation met with Indonesian wheat millers and buyers as part of the inaugural Indonesia Australia Business Week in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November. The 360-strong Australian delegation included representatives from GrainGrowers, Grain Trade Australia and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre.

GrainGrowers grower services manager Michael Southan said the ‘Grains Roundtable’ provided a forum to discuss the 2015 wheat harvest, variety releases and supply-chain quality assurance.

More information:

Laureta Wallace, 0457 589 703,

Asia grain conference

The impact of the Chinese and South-East Asian macro economy on the grains and oilseeds markets will be one of the important topics on the agenda of the Global Grain Asia 2016 conference in Singapore from 1 to 3 March. Day one of the conference will also include the Australian Grains Industry Conference Asia, an opportunity for the Australian industry to promote itself and network with the Asian buyers and end users.

More information:

Global Grain Events;

Australian Grains Conference (Asia)

Australia–China Centre

The University of Adelaide has launched a joint Australia-China Centre for Agriculture and Health at the Waite campus, South Australia, in partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

The new centre aims to develop technologies, skills and trade opportunities to help meet the national food, water and health targets of the two participating countries.

Its research activities are focused on four themes: agriculture and wine; land and water; food safety and quality; and health and nutrition.

Milestones already achieved at the centre include:

  • establishment of a Joint Laboratory for Plant Science and Breeding to address food security challenges, such as the development of more environmentally resilient and productive crops
  • appointment of Chinese plant scientist Professor Dabing Zhang to lead the joint laboratory, plus a postdoctoral researcher and two PhD students from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, with more to come
  • an agreement to establish a collaborative research centre that aims to produce healthy grain products free of contaminants and assess their market potential; and improve human health outcomes
  • new research to develop wine suited to the Chinese market in collaboration with the Australian wine industry

More information:

University of Adelaide

Adelaide update

Rural Directions associate Patrick Redden (left), from Clare, South Australia, talked growers and advisers through the opportunities and considerations of multi-peril crop insurance at the GRDC Farm Business Update in Adelaide in October.

Patrick is pictured with GRDC general manager of systems and agronomy south, Stephen Loss (centre), who leads the GRDC’s operations in the southern region, and farm adviser Stefan Schmitt (right) of Ag Consulting Co. The Update focused on building sustainable farm businesses, with sessions on managing intergenerational change, understanding business risk profiles and developing leadership skills. The next GRDC Update in Adelaide is the Grains Research Update on 9 and 10 February.


Symposium probes barley future


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