The four year $20 million project, a Royalties for Regions investment, will boost on-farm grain productivity and profitability to enable WA grain growers to capitalise on expanding, premium Asian and Middle Eastern grain food markets and re-energising the performance and future development of R&D capability within WA.
Grains R&D Postgraduate Scholarships and Development Program
The department, through the Boosting Grains project has established and funded the Grains R&D Postgraduate Development Program. A key aspect of this program will be to build and maintain research capacity through a skilled cohort of regionally based scientists to drive the effective delivery of R&D outcomes to benefit the grains industry and WA economy.
For information on applying for the Grains R&D Postgraduate Scholarships visit the Grains R&D Postgraduate Scholarships and Development Program page.
New grains R&D entity
The department's Boosting Grains R&D project is progressing, with the foundations being laid for a research-focused company to help drive the future success of the WA grains industry.
New ways of doing business is essential to assist the WA grains industry to be internationally competitive in an increasingly complex global trade environment.
It will carry out R&D activities, primarily in the agronomic and related farming systems sphere, for the benefit of the WA grains industry.
This project is in its infancy and there is still much work to be done to turn the current conceptual model into a reality. It will also require further approval of the Minister, the Treasurer and the WA Government.
Collaboration is a key feature. There are opportunities, whether in government, agribusiness, research or grower group, to identify new and better ways to work together to improve the international competitiveness, and potentially double the value of the grains sector.
Investment and operational partnerships locally, statewide, nationally and internationally are an intrinsic part of the company.
New focused R&D
Research and development priorities
- Frost-proofing farm businesses - will bring new research technologies and skills to regional WA that will help to increase knowledge and understanding ways to manage and reduce frost damage.
- More grain from less rain - will focus on linking growers to better agronomy and new varieties to ensure productivity gains continue during dry seasons.
- Lifting the yield ceiling - will develop new crop ‘management packages’ that will provide new opportunities for growers to take advantage of high rainfall seasons.
- Regional agronomy systems - will focus on improving farm productivity and reducing production risk. It will do this through the effective delivery of integrated information from industry projects being undertaken across the grainbelt. This will be a significant investment in frontline staff across the wheatbelt, working with grower groups, the agribusiness sector, and commercial agronomy networks.
Early career scientists
New highly skilled R&D positions will be created in regional WA to ensure talented scientists are working in key areas to meet the challenges faced by growers. These positions, designed to be long-term, will provide ongoing support to the new entity to grow and attract additional investment.
The first of these positions has already been created with the project recently welcoming early career scientist Dr Dion Nicol. Dr Nicol, a plant physiologist will be working with DAFWA agronomists to examine how wheat responds to factors that influence plant growth at different stages of the season. He will also contribute to the National Frost Initiative Management program and the department’s Tactical Wheat Agronomy project, both funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
New R&D infrastructure and equipment
With a focus on new technology, the project will enable infrastructure and equipment to be expanded and improved. The main investment will be around purpose designed laboratories, equipment, glasshouses, field environments for public and private breeding and cropping systems research.
State Soil Archive
A State Soil Archive will provide facilities and protocols to ensure the conservation of the long term value of soil specimens and associated data. The archive will make these soil samples and data available for research now and into the future.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between DPIRD and the Department of Training and Workforce Development to establish the archive at the Muresk Institute in a specially refurbished building.
The State Soil Archive will be administered by DPIRD and will open later this year.
Grants totalling $3 million have been dedicated to developing strong partnerships with industry, universities and the private sector to support four flagship R&D projects. These will be administered through the new R&D entity.