EDITORIAL GRDC budget initiatives

John Lovett

This year's GRDC research budget contains good news for graingrowers — a $10 million increase over last year's investment, bringing the total to $104 million, with particular emphasis on problems faced by growers in the Western Region in recent seasons.

This budget will allow the GRDC to both continue its existing research and embark on some exciting new directions. It will also enable the industry to respond powerfully to some of the regional problems which have threatened the viability of graingrowers in recent years.

A major national program aims to develop Australia's capability in biotechnology and plant transformation techniques. A Cereal Transformation Program coordinated with AWB Limited will shorten the time needed to produce and release superior new varieties.

While all graingrowers will benefit from the GRDC's national programs, growers in each region will gain particular benefit from the $54 million funding of regional projects to meet local needs identified by the GRDC's three regional panels.

In the Northern Grains Region GRDC investment will address cereal diseases which arose in the extreme and disastrous weather conditions of 1998. Our research includes $100,000 to implement recommendations of the Rees report into crop losses. Other projects will research integrated control of yellow spot and the incorporation of multi-resistances in new crop varieties.

The GRDC's Southern Region budget provides nearly $4 million for wheat-linked research. Programs totalling $7.9 million fund research into soil and water management and sustainable rotations. The GRDC's Southern Panel and growers identified summer-growing weeds as a high priority, and the budget responds with a $1.05 million investment for herbicide resistance and integrated weed management projects.

In the West almost $5 million will support research leading to the production of wheat for specific markets, with a focus on the Export Grains Centre. A total of $2.8 million will go toward control and management of soil salinity, and $2 million on sustainable rotations. Substantial new investment in pulse productivity recognises grower concerns about the effects of disease.