Northam Grains Research Facilities

Page last updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2022 - 9:12am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Department’s Northam Grains Research Facilities are Western Australia’s premier regional centre for crop research and innovation. The purpose-built work areas were designed to meet current and future needs of applied grains research and development (R&D).

We collaborate with industry and grower groups, universities and other research providers to enhance the impact and delivery of our R&D. Our new facilities provide further opportunity to collaborate with innovative researchers, agronomists and academics to support WA’s agricultural industries.


We undertake R&D to develop integrated solutions for WA grain growers focusing on:

  • Agronomy of new varieties and cropping systems for enduring profitability
  • Techniques to increase soil fertility and crop nutrient availability
  • Management of pests, weeds, and diseases, through chemical, cultural and biological methods
  • Evaluation of new and improved crop breeding lines and genetic traits.

Research programs led from Northam include:

  • Cereal agronomy studies
  • Barley and oat variety optimisation for Wheatbelt environments and end use markets
  • Assessing soil amelioration techniques and their effects on crop production
  • Re-engineering soils to optimise crop growth and production  
  • Evaluation of crop breeding material and genetic traits 
  • Management of soil acidity and other soil constraints 
  • Crop and soil nutrition including optimising fertiliser application
  • Lentil and chickpea development for Wheatbelt environments
  • Management of crop pests, weeds, and diseases including electric weed control trials, diamond back moth control, crop disease trials and weed growth in non-wetting soils.

Contact us at for more information on how your organisation can collaborate with the department, or book a tour of the facilities and see first-hand the agricultural technology and expertise we have available for collaborative research and scientific advancement.


Field research operations (FRO) building

The FRO building is designed to receive, store and process plant material and grain samples collected from research trials distributed across all grain growing regions in Western Australia.

Key features

  • Delivery bay with forklift access for offloading commercial vehicles and trucks
  • Storage areas with space-saving pallet racking and storage system
  • Controlled environment storage areas to maintain the quality of plant and grain samples
  • Drying ovens within easy access to delivery, storage and processing areas
  • Air conditioned processing area with mobile work benches
  • Air conditioned threshing room with dust extraction and specialised grain cleaning equipment
  • Air conditioned milling room with dust extraction system for grinding grain and plant material.

northam drying ovens


The large insect-proof enclosures support the evaluation of crop growth under insect-free conditions or the impact of specific insect populations (introduced to an enclosure) on crop development.

Key features

  • Three 210m2 steel framed screenhouses with ante-room access, internal partitioning and Gingin loam seedbed
  • Overhead sprinkler irrigation system with programmable stations and access to single phase power.

northam screen houses

Field trial plots

Fully irrigated and vermin proof field sites support detailed studies on crop phenology, agronomy and protection.

Key features

  • 1.3ha under 3.9m high bird netting
  • 1.2ha surrounded by rabbit-proof fencing
  • Local soil type improved to research requirements
  • Irrigation system to individual plots and access to single and three phase power
  • Permanent access road for vehicles and equipment.

northam field plots

Glasshouses and trial preparation area

Temperature controlled glasshouses with automatic watering, shade screen and misting systems support crop physiology and nutrition, weeds and diseases research.

The area includes a purpose built potting-up area with efficient work flow between glasshouses, spray cabinet and growth room facilities.

Key features

  • Eight controlled environment glasshouses including two built to physical and quarantine containment two standards (PC2/QC2)
  • Four controlled environment rooms — temperature, light and humidity
  • One Plant Growth Chamber within PC2/QC2 rated room
  • Six metre long spray cabinet allowing safe and accurate application of chemical treatments
  • Chemical preparation area with fume hood
  • Bulk soil storage and soil sterilisation facilities
  • Root washing sink with sand trap.

northam glass houses


The general and special purpose laboratories are fully equipped to support diverse research requirements, including grain quality and soil chemical analyses, pathology and molecular procedures with access to physical and quarantine containment (PC2/QC2) if required.

Key features

  • Nine spacious laboratories overall, equipped with a wide range of reagents and specialised equipment
  • Two PC2/QC2 standard laboratories with shared preparation area
  • Two dedicated soils laboratories providing a processing area with dust extraction, and separate laboratory for chemical analyses
  • Environmentally controlled laboratory for near infrared (NIR) grain quality analysis.

northam laboratories


DPIRD's Northam office is located at 75 York Road in Northam

Map of Northam office location


For more information on the facilities and R&D opportunities available at the DPIRD Northam Grains Research Facilities please contact:  

P: +61 1300 374 731 (1300 DPIRD1) or +61(0)8 9690 2000