Grains research undertaken in regional South Australia is being taken to a new level with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) announcing a major contribution to the establishment of facilities at the South Australian Research and Development Institute’s (SARDI) new Clare Research Centre.
GRDC Chairman John Woods said SARDI, a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), had received a GRDC Grains Research and Development (R&D) Infrastructure Grant of $270,000 to build a controlled environment growth room at the new research centre in SA’s Mid North. In addition to the GRDC grant, PIRSA-SARDI has contributed $30,000 to the controlled environment growth room project.
Mr Woods said the GRDC Grains R&D Infrastructure Grant was part of $15 million the GRDC Board had agreed to invest in a strategy to build national research capacity.
“The purpose of the grant program is to boost capacity and capability in Australian grains research and development through funding key infrastructure, and to create enduring profitability for grain growers,” Mr Woods said.
He said the state-of-the-art controlled environment growth room would be an important facility at the new $2.5 million Clare Research Centre which has been developed as part of the SA State Government’s commitment to grains research and to a five-year $50 million strategic partnership between the GRDC and PIRSA-SARDI.
“The controlled environment growth room will specifically enable grains research to be conducted year-round at the centre in Clare, with the outputs of that work benefiting growers in the region, the State and beyond,” Mr Woods said.
The Clare Research Centre is the base for the SARDI New Variety Agronomy (NVA) group, part of an expanding regional team providing applied research and development to SA’s regions.
The SARDI Clare NVA program integrates variety evaluation, pre-breeding, breeding, agronomic research and grain quality evaluation capabilities to facilitate adoption of improved grain varieties for SA growers.
These research projects are valued at more than $2 million annually and include SARDI-GRDC bilateral initiatives such as the development of herbicide-tolerant pulses.
The NVA group largely conducts field-based research but has the need for indoor studies under controlled environment conditions to complement field activities.
The controlled environment growth room will be used for evaluating plant growth and response to biotic and abiotic stresses under a variety of conditions by controlling environmental variables.
“This facility will be a major asset for the grains industry in SA and nationally,” Mr Woods said. “It will play a pivotal role in cutting-edge research undertakings, is likely to attract world-class researchers to the region and is also expected to be used by students and researchers associated with farming systems groups.”
SARDI Executive Director Dr Peter Appleford said the NVA group plays a critical role in the expansion of farming systems in the Mid North and on Yorke Peninsula.
“For 25 years SARDI has been at the forefront of research and innovation to deliver leading-edge applied science to grow South Australia’s primary industries. This new purpose-built facility will increase the capacity of research for our NVA group within the region, in addition to supporting the important work of Rural Solutions and Biosecurity SA in the Mid North,” Dr Appleford said.
The GRDC recently conducted an open, competitive process seeking applications for grants between $20,000 and $3 million for the construction of new, or enhancement of existing, infrastructure primarily used for R&D in the grains industry in Australia.
The grants can be also used for procuring building materials and services associated with the infrastructure’s construction, as well as the purchase of plant, equipment or fittings.
Successful applicants are required to contribute to their projects either themselves or through other third party contributions. The amount of the co-contribution must be equal to or greater than 10 percent of the grant from the GRDC.