$10,000 prize rewards environment researchGraincare to focus on grower benefit

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Dr Ted Lefroy, Mr David Waugh and Dr Christine Davies, the winners of last year"s Eureka Prize for Research to Improve the Environmental Sustianability of Graingrowing.

The Eureka Prizes this year will again highlight the critical importance of environmental sustainability to the grains industry with a $10,000 prize sponsored by the GRDC.

The closing date to submit entries to the Australian Museum is 14 May 2004 (details below). The GRDC is encouraging individual growers, grower groups and scientists involved in grains research to compete for the prize, which will be awarded to an individual, team or organisation whose work has, or could, increase the sustainability of the use of natural resources.

Dr Jan Mahoney, formerly the GRDC’s executive manager for Product and Service Delivery, was a judge of last year’s inaugural Eureka Prize for Research to Improve the Environmental Sustainability of Graingrowing.

“In judging the entries, I was impressed with the fact that people are combining economic and industry imperatives with the environmental needs and using good science, along with a little bit of lateral thinking, to try to put them together more effectively than in the past,” she says.

This was exemplified by the research into developing perennial grasses as a millable seed that won the award for Dr Ted Lefroy, from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, and Dr Christine Davies and Mr David Waugh, both from the University of Western Australia. Their work is revealing the potential of native grasses as a crop for land damaged by erosion and salinity.

The entry captured the GRDC’s vision for the Eureka Prize, of research that achieves more than incremental gains, Dr Mahoney says. “It’s about bringing a whole new approach if we can. It really is important that people are thinking a bit differently.”

Dr Mahoney says the award demonstrates that the grains industry and the environment are “part and parcel of one another. One of the aims of doing this is to highlight – within the industry and more broadly – this compatibility by showing that the industry is concerned about environmental sustainability and that there are some very good things going on.”

The Eureka Prize fosters pride in recognising excellence among scientists and grain growers, and benefits both the individuals and the industry as a whole, she says. “We value our sports people but we don’t always value our scientists, and this is a chance to put them up there, and to put agriculture up there with industries that are perceived as more innovative.”

Taste test:

Researchers Dr Ted Lefroy (left), Mr David Waugh and Dr Christine Davies, the winners of last year’s inaugural Eureka Prize for Research to Improve the Environmental Sustainability of Graingrowing, about to sample the native grain crop they are developing in a joint GRDC/RIRDC project.

The grain is seed of weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides); the bowl on the left is a largeseeded variety from the south-west of WA and on the right is a smaller seeded variety from southeast Australia.

For more information:
Roger Muller, Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, 02 9320 6230, eureka@austmus.gov.au or visit www.amonline.net.au/eureka/


Australia’s graingrowers will be hearing more about developing their business through the quality assurance program Graincare, after the program’s administration was transferred to Industry Services Australia. This followed a competitive tender process.

Previously run by the Grains Council of Australia, Graincare will develop a more commercial focus to increase grower awareness of the program’s benefits.

Lindsay Spencer, the general manager of accreditation company Industry Services Australia, says Graincare will be actively promoted: “There are benefits at both ends of the supply chain – growers and consumer,” he says.

The GRDC and the Grains Council will continue to support Graincare and will be closely involved in Graincare’s progress and future development. Graincare is a grower developed code of practice for protecting food and feed safety. It contains 13 elements that set the standard for grain production. These cover obtaining and storing chemicals, crop management, harvesting and harvesting equipment, and document control.

There are two stages to becoming a Graincare grower. Growers must first register with the voluntary program to obtain their on-farm quality assurance manual, which outlines practices required to become accredited. Growers must then undergo an independent audit of the practices they have in place to meet the code’s requirements.

“Users of Australian grain know the importance of on-farm quality assurance for food and feed safety,” Mr Spencer says. “We will be looking to have them convey this message to grain growers.”

For more information:
Lindsay Spencer, 02 9428 6144 or 1300 781 411 outside NSW; graincare@awex.com.au or visit www.graincare.com.au