Healthy investment returns

This issue of Ground Cover is packed with information on what pastures can do for growers, gained from research over a number of years and throughout Australia. We also have a number of reports from long-term trials. Our report on the biocontrol of take-all, as well as Rhizoctonia, with long-term stubble retention, is an international breakthrough for broadacre cropping with important implications for the study of disease control.

Long-term trials are invaluable in cropping research and the GRDC is committed to its sound research investments over the long haul. As with the stock-market, that's where the real returns are.

This is a reminder of the excellent returns realised by the grower research levy. From a cost-benefit study of 16 representative research projects over their lifetime, the GRDC has sound evidence that the benefit to farmers and the community is a return of about $19 for each dollar spent on research and development. That's a pretty good rate of return by anybody's standards — better than money in the bank.

It's a good indicator that the Corporation's research investment policy is sound. In 1995-96 the Corporation proposes to spend $58.9 million, of which $35.1 million is alloted to continuing research commitments, $3 million for a one-off, strategic investment in upgrading equipment and other infrastructure for scientific research, $3.7 million to program support, $2.5 million to administration and $14.6 million to new research investments.

This year new research projects total 170, from 400 applications. Our analysis of market and production trends yields good news for growers (and research institutions). Holding the current levy rate, 1 per cent of net farm gate value except for maize and sorghum (0.2 per cent), we can make a recurrent commitment to grains research and development at $55 million annually for the next five years. That sort of healthy investment, will continue to yield dividends well into the next century.