New themes for grains research

FUTURE research, development and extension (RD&E) within the Australian grains industry is integrating six new themes, aimed at consolidating RD&E investment and optimising returns to grain growers, according to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The six themes were the centre of discussion at last week’s National Strategy Implementation Committee meeting. They are currently under development by the GRDC, in a move which the grains body says will ensure that growers’ levies are focused on those elements that will make the biggest difference and return the highest benefit to Australian grain growers.

The themes are: growers meeting market requirements; improving crop yield; protecting your crop; profitable farming systems; managing the farm resource base; and building skills and capacity.

GRDC Managing Director and Implementation Committee Co-Chair John Harvey says he wants the GRDC levy to be the best investment growers make every single year.

“It is critical that the industry’s RD&E investment portfolio is much more focused and dynamic,” Mr Harvey said.

“It is very easy to try and be everything to everybody and cover every possible issue, but if we are serious about optimising return on investment then we need to refine and focus the portfolio.”

Mr Harvey said aligning priorities and coordinating activities in grains industry RD&E was central to the success of the national strategy.

“The Grains Industry National RD&E Strategy provides a framework for the way we plan to do business,” Mr Harvey said.

“In addition to getting input from growers and industry, it is also a priority for GRDC to get input from the Implementation Committee members, their organisations and researchers throughout the nation.”

Implementation Committee Co-Chair and Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia Director of Grains Industry Development, Mark Sweetingham, said several working groups were in place through the strategy to improve coordination of activities nationally, and develop effective models for public and private sector partnerships.

“Wheat quality, systems modelling, nectrotrophic fungal pathogens, soil science and high rainfall farming systems are all priority work areas to develop better coordination and information exchange nationally,” Dr Sweetingham said.

“We are also developing principles for public-private partnerships in R&D, primarily relating to pre-breeding activities, and starting work on public-private partnership models for effective delivery of extension services.

“Having a platform to share information and engage in priority setting, particularly with GRDC, is reducing fragmentation and duplication, and encouraging better alignment and delivery of grains industry research and development outcomes.

“Through our committee and networks we will provide valuable feedback to GRDC about the activities, collaborators and outcomes expected through its six new themes”, Dr Sweetingham said.

GRDC will hold workshops on each of its investment themes during the next few months, in addition to consultation through the Grains Industry National RD&E Strategy.

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