Australian Government: Grains Research and Development CororationGRDC Annual Report 2005-2006

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Research priorities

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Grain and Graze, a joint initiative of the GRDC, MLA, AWI and LWA is assisting mixed farmers across southern Australia to increase the profitability of producing crops and livestock while better managing water, soil and biodiversity.

Each year the GRDC tailors its investment portfolio, and its Annual Operational Plan, to best address the research priorities identified by its key customers: the Australian Government and Australian graingrowers.

The GRDC's R&D portfolio is linked to the Australian Government's:

The GRDC identified Australian graingrowers' R&D priorities for 2002-07 during the development of Driving Innovation, through consultations with the Grains Council of Australia (GCA) and graingrower workshops.

Table 3 shows the relationships between government and industry research priorities, while Table 4 shows how the GRDC achieved results in relation to these priorities during 2005-06.

The breakdown of expenditure allocated to addressing the Australian Government's research priorities during the 2005-06 financial year appears in more detail in Appendix 1.

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Table 3: Industry and government research priorities
Australian graingrowers' priorities Australian Government's National Research Priorities (NRPs) Ministerial priorities for rural R&D corporations and companies (RRDPs)

Industry 1: Sustainability and resource management:

  • farming systems and rotations to protect and enhance the soil and water resource base
  • genetic improvement for sustainability
NRP 1: An environmentally sustainable Australia RRDP 1: Sustainable natural resource management

Industry 2: New and innovative product development:

  • identify premium markets to enhance grower returns
  • ensure flow of market signals
NRP 2: Promoting and maintaining good health

RRDP 2: Improving competitiveness through a whole-of-industry approach

RRDP 3: Maintaining and improving confidence in the integrity of Australian agricultural, food, fish and forestry products

Industry 3: Develop new alliances and links to market   RRDP 4: Improved trade and market access

Industry 4: Bringing biotechnology to bear on sustainability and consumer benefit outcomes, to support profitable farming systems and access to premium markets

Industry 7: Effective and targeted transfer and adoption of technology and knowledge for Australian growers

NRP 3: Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

RRDP 5: Use of frontier technologies

RRDP 7: Creating an innovative culture

Industry 5: Genetic improvement and regional adaptation of new grain varieties:

  • improved resistance to biotic and abiotic stress
  • quality standards for specific end uses
   

Industry 6: Integrated pest management:

  • to minimise total costs of pests, diseases and weeds
  • to maintain options and control strategies

 

NRP 4: Safeguarding Australia RRDP 6: Protecting Australia from invasive diseases and pests
Industry 8: Independent variety evaluation    

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Table 4: GRDC achievements against stakeholder priorities in 2005-06
Priorities Relevant new GRDC investments

Industry 1:

Sustainability and resource management:

  • farming systems and rotations to protect and enhance the soil and water resource base
  • genetic improvement for sustainability

NRP 1:

An environmentally sustainable Australia

RRDP 1:

Sustainable natural resource management

To improve the sustainability of farming operations, the GRDC supported projects with a particular emphasis on:

  • developing and communicating precision agriculture and zone cropping methods
  • communicating the findings of the Soil Biology Initiative through better soil management packages
  • identifying priority areas to assist in lifting grain yields closer to potential water-limited yield across agroecological zones and statistical local areas
  • identifying economic options for the removal of subsoil constraints
  • improving understanding of the drivers of climate variability, through the Managing Climate Variability Program
  • developing and communicating management packages for pulses and oilseeds
  • communicating methods for the measurement of crop water use
  • developing strategies to achieve high cereal yields in rotation with cotton
  • developing approaches to better integrate livestock into cropping systems, through the Grain and Graze Program.

Industry 2:

New and innovative product development:

  • identify premium markets to enhance grower returns
  • ensure flow of market signals

NRP 2:

Promoting and maintaining good health

RRDP 2:

Improving competitiveness through a whole-of-industry approach

RRDP 3:

Maintaining and improving confidence in the integrity of Australian agricultural, food, fish and forestry products

GRDC investments to improve the industry's competitiveness in new markets included:

  • a study to identify the most suitable oilseed crops to be used as a platform for the development of industrial oils from the CSIRO-GRDC Crop Biofactories Initiative
  • a study to identify commercial opportunities in the developing biofuels industry in Australia and North America
  • a collaborative project with animal industries to improve the use and value of feed grains by creating calibrations to determine the digestible energy in grain
  • Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Innovative Grain Food Products projects on Bioprocessing, Healthy Foods and Fibre, and Fodder to Food
  • a project to identify potential economic benefits from novel oilseeds with altered oil profiles for use in the human food and animal feed markets.

The GRDC also supported research to:

  • develop objective grain quality testing technologies, such as an on-farm, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) moisture meter
  • manage the quality of barley in storage
  • develop leading-edge technologies to assess grain quality at receival
  • develop a risk assessment and other strategies for the management of mycotoxins in maize
  • establish the 'no observable effect' levels of common toxins found in grains.

Industry 3:

Develop new alliances and links to market

RRDP 4:

Improved trade and market access

GRDC activities to foster market alliances included:

  • establishing a jointly owned company, Philom Bios (Australia) Pty Ltd, to commercialise a range of new soil inoculants
  • agreeing to enter into an incorporated joint venture with CSIRO and Groupe Limagrain of France to complete the development and commercialisation of high-amylose wheat.
Priorities Relevant new GRDC investments

Industry 4:

Bringing biotechnology to bear on sustainability and consumer benefit outcomes, to support profitable farming systems and access to premium markets

NRP 3:

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

RRDP 5:

Use of frontier technologies

RRDP 7:

Creating an innovative culture

GRDC support for the exploration of frontier technologies included:

  • work by the Australian Winter Cereals Molecular Marker Program, focusing on the validation and implementation of markers for wheat and barley breeding
  • research to discover genes for plant improvement and crop protection, through basic/strategic research projects that included partnerships in the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and the Grain Protection Genes program to develop novel approaches to abiotic and biotic stresses respectively
  • work by the Molecular Plant Breeding CRC and the Value Added Wheat CRC to further enhance the technological base for cereal crop improvement.

The GRDC also commissioned a technology and market assessment study to identify investment opportunities and potential partners to develop technologies to assist growers to analyse soil and grain properties on-farm. This is in addition to ongoing work to further develop objective grain quality testing technologies, such as an on-farm NIR moisture meter.

Industry 5:

Genetic improvement and regional adaptation of new grain varieties:

  • improved resistance to biotic and abiotic stress
  • quality standards for specific end uses

The GRDC's investments in breeding programs for cereals, oilseeds and pulses delivered new varieties with enhanced performance:

  • Ten new varieties of wheat with increased yield, disease and pest resistance, and tolerance to abiotic stresses, as well as improved quality and agronomic attributes, were made available to growers
  • Six new malt varieties and two new feed varieties of wheat were released. One example, Flagship, was bred specifically for the large brewing and malting market in South-East Asia, China and Japan
  • Two speciality high-oleic, low-linolenic (HOLL) canola cultivars were released- HOLL varieties produce oil with relatively low levels of unsaturated fats and enhanced frying stability
  • The sorghum-breeding program developed germplasm with increased genetic diversity, improved grain quality and significantly improved resistance to sorghum midge, drought and disease
  • The pulse-breeding program released several new varieties with higher yield, superior quality and improved disease resistance.

Industry 6:

Integrated pest management:

  • to minimise total costs of pests, diseases and weeds
  • to maintain options and control strategies

NRP 4:

Safeguarding Australia

RRDP 6:

Protecting Australia from invasive diseases and pests

The GRDC continued to support research to develop integrated approaches to the management of weeds, diseases and pests, and to communicate successful methods to growers. For example, a series of integrated weed management workshops demonstrated collaboration between the GRDC, the CRC for Australian Weed Management and a range of industry participants to promote effective and sustainable weed management practices.

As a result of the GRDC's support for Plant Health Australia, protocols were set in place for the preparation of contingency plans for the highest priority emergency plant pests considered most likely to gain entry to Australia and affect the grains industry. Fifteen such plans will be completed in the next three years.

With the support of Plant Health Australia, the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity and the GRDC, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries developed a new, highly accurate molecular test for Karnal bunt. Misidentification of this disease in Pakistan threatened Australian exports in 2004, and the new test was developed to prevent such an emergency from re-occurring. The test will reduce the time taken to accurately identify the disease from two weeks to less than one day.

A license option agreement was put in place between CSIRO (on behalf of the GRDC and the other co-owners of the technology) and BOC Ltd to undertake the evaluation and registration of carbonyl sulphide and ethyl formate for use as grain fumigants.

Industry 7:

Effective and targeted transfer and adoption of technology and knowledge for Australian growers

RRDP 7:

Creating an innovative culture

Mechanisms in place to deliver targeted information to meet stakeholder needs included:

  • a communication plan, developed and implemented in collaboration with the National Variety Trials (NVT) service provider, the Australian Crop Accreditation System, to deliver the first year's results from the NVT-this included development of the website www.nvtonline.com.au
  • grower and adviser research updates, involving GRDC-funded researchers and international speakers, to transfer knowledge on investment outputs
  • 18 grower workshops, conducted across Australia by the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, to raise awareness and understanding of plant breeder's rights, End Point Royalties (EPRs) and related contractual issues.

Information, products and services developed for the GRDC's customers included:

  • a joint project with the Kondinin Group to revise The Wheat Book, an educational resource for children aged between ten and 14 years
  • an audio CD presenting the latest grains industry technical and agronomic information from the 2005 GRDC research update series, targeting over 1,000 advisers and industry specialists
  • Driving Agronomy, an audio CD on new research initiatives, distributed to over 38,000 growers and advisers
  • a booklet on cereal growth stages that includes management strategies for disease control and canopy management
  • maize and sorghum Ute Guides for growers in the Northern Region.

Industry 8:

Independent variety evaluation

  • NVT were successfully established across all the major grain-growing regions of Australia. Variety data for ten winter crops (including wheat, barley and canola) from 482 GRDC-funded trials were processed. Trial results are published online at www.nvtonline.com.au.

Notes:

' Industry' priorities are the eight grains industry priorities identified through consultation.

' NRP' priorities are the Australian Government's four National Research Priorities.

' RRDP' priorities are the seven ministerial priorities for rural R&D corporations and companies.

'Statistical local area' is the base spatial unit used used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to collect and disseminate statistics other than those collected from the Population Censuses.

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