Grains R&D future-proofed in new bilateral deal

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A $50 million step-up in targeted grains research has been secured with a five-year deal between the GRDC and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). 

The bilateral agreement is the latest in a series of multi-million-dollar co-investments made by the GRDC and key research organisations to drive ongoing research addressing the most pressing priorities for the Australian grains industry.

Outgoing GRDC managing director John Harvey says these bilateral agreements are important as they deliver surety to the research partners. This allows for more strategic investment and long-term planning.

“Partnership improves our grains R&D capability, allowing us to address more problems to provide more real solutions to growers,” Mr Harvey says. “Through partnership our industry is better future-proofed and equipped to respond to forces that otherwise undermine grains industry profitability and productivity.”

As part of the deal, SARDI will commit staff, equipment and resources worth $25 million, matched by a $25 million GRDC cash investment.

SA’s Agriculture Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell says this will include six new regional agronomy positions relevant to SARDI’s role as the leading research provider in farming systems for low-to-medium-rainfall areas across southern Australia. “This co-investment will be committed to key programs of state and national priority under the National Research, Development and Extension Strategy.”

Mr Harvey says the deal confirms the SA Government’s and the GRDC’s commitment to provide high-quality science to underpin the industry’s long-term profitability.

“The GRDC believes the partnership provides the resources to tackle a deeper and broader range of R&D,” he says.

Over the past two years, the GRDC has also signed bilateral agreements with Western Australia’s Curtin University and Agriculture Victoria.

The five-year, $98 million Curtin University deal, in which the GRDC contributed $30 million, includes the Centre for Crop and Disease Management, which has a national role in reducing the impact of disease in crop production.

In Victoria, the development of the next generation of pulse crops is the focus of the GRDC’s five-year, $60.5 million co-investment with Agriculture Victoria, centred around the world-leading research precinct in Horsham.

Mr Harvey says bilateral agreements move funding away from a project-by-project basis that can too often lead to a fragmented effort. “Today we need a far more holistic approach to RD&E because our cropping systems need integrated research able to factor in the whole breadth of influences – crop type, soil biology, climate, pests, disease, new technologies and market drivers.”

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