Industry snapshot

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Crop research team

Professor Karam Singh, a chief research scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food and a specialist in soil-borne fungal pathogens and insect pests, has been appointed co-director of the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) in Perth. The collaboration between CCDM and CSIRO has the focus of reducing the economic impact of crop disease. CCDM is a national research centre co-supported by Curtin University and the GRDC. CCDM director Professor Mark Gibberd says he and Professor Singh will lead research in plant pathology, agronomy,  agribusiness and fungicide resistance. Professor Singh has been at CSIRO since 1999. Prior to this, he was at the University of California.

More information:

Carole Kerr, Curtin University,
08 9266 3353,

APVMA leadership

The federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has appointed veterinarian Dr Chris Parker as interim chief executive of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) in Armidale, NSW. Mr Joyce says the appointment will give the APVMA some certainty as it takes the next steps to build a world-class regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemical products in regional Australia. “This appointment also gives us time to complete a comprehensive recruitment process for a permanent APVMA CEO, to be based in Armidale,” he says. The minister thanked outgoing chief executive Kareena Arthy: “Ms Arthy led the APVMA’s implementation of the 2014 reforms to streamline regulation, better align regulatory effort with risk and improve registration and application processes. (She) also developed the APVMA’s relocation strategy.” The APVMA’s relocation to Armidale is part of the Federal Government’s decentralisation program.

More information:

Megan Dempsey,
0491 222 306

Svalbard seed vault safe

Photo of Crawford Fund chair Tim Fischer at the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway

Crawford Fund chair Tim Fischer at the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway.

PHOTO: Crawford Fund

NSW grain grower and vice-chair of the organisation that oversees the Svalbard seed vault in Norway, Tim Fischer, has refuted recent media claims that stored seed has been damaged by water. Speaking for the Crop Trust organisation, Mr Fisher said water intrusion happened from time to time, but was removed automatically by pumps. He said the pumping system had been upgraded after record warm winter temperatures had caused a melt in the surrounding permafrost. The seeds in the vault had never been threatened, he said. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic holds the world’s largest and most diverse seed collection and was built to safeguard the seeds of food crops and their wild relatives against any future calamity. The vault holds about 11,000 Australian seed packets. The vault is owned and administered for the Crop Trust by the Norwegian Government. Mr Fisher is chair of the Crawford Fund, a major long-term supporter of the Crop Trust.

More information:

Cathy Reade, Crawford Fund,

Moisture management

A case-study booklet has been developed to share growers’ experience in practical approaches to managing soil moisture. Produced by the GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network in Western Australia, the publication, Managing Soil Moisture, highlights what growers in lower-rainfall areas are doing differently to utilise available soil moisture and boost crop productivity and profits in the face of increasingly fluctuating rainfall. The booklet was initiated by the Kwinana East port zone RCSN group. RCSN coordinator Julianne Hill says that since its inception in 2011, the group’s members have consistently identified soil moisture management as one of the top two priorities in the region. The booklet is available at and

More information:

Julianne Hill,
0447 261 607,

GRDC representative meeting

At the start of June, GRDC senior management, including managing director Dr Steve Jefferies, took part in meetings with the government-appointed grower representative organisations – Grain Producers Australia and GrainGrowers Ltd. Dr Jefferies said these meetings have become an important opportunity for the GRDC to check in with its levy payers through the two peak industry bodies. “We discussed a number of strategic issues that influence the ability of the GRDC to invest in RD&E for Australian growers. This included development of a levy payer database and the present review of the levy process by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources,” he said. “We also discussed the process for developing the next five-year strategic RD&E plan.”

More information:

Justin Crosby,
02 6166 4500