The Darling Downs is set to become an epicentre for Queensland grains and cropping research with the announcement of an $11 million investment into a Grains Research Facility.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, announced on Thursday (October 5) the $11 million co-investment by the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Queensland Government.
Through an Industry Trust (Grains and Cropping R&D Trust) a 740 hectare property on the Condamine River, south-west of Toowoomba, has been acquired and is set to become one of Australia’s biggest cropping research stations.
The 740ha ‘fit-for-purpose’ property, Tosari, is located on the Condamine River, on Yarramalong Road, 70km south-west of Toowoomba.
The property will be developed into a world-class grains applied research, development and extension (RD&E) facility, which will be operated by the trust on behalf of Australia grain growers.
Deputy Prime Minister Joyce said the co-investment highlighted Queensland’s and northern NSW’s importance to the national grains industry and the need for ongoing, grass-roots driven RD&E.
Minister Joyce paid tribute to the major contribution of Dr John McVeigh, federal member for Groom, to the development of the new research facility in his former role as Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2012-15).
“This world-class grains research facility will have high relevance to the cropping sector as it is located in one of the country’s prime agricultural areas, in close proximity to established scientific research institutions,” Minister Joyce said.
“Australia has world-class grain growers, but what this facility will do is focus on issues like new technology, crop genetics and weed control, to boost growers’ farmgate profits and bolster our competitiveness globally.
“The location of the research facility will allow for both summer and winter farming systems trials that are relevant not just to Queensland grain growers, but nationally.”
GRDC Chairman John Woods said the facility would be open to both public and private organisations to undertake R&D, which would help ensure enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.
“This facility will be the key Queensland link to breeding programs as well as research into abiotic and biotic traits, soils, water, weeds and modelling,” Mr Woods said.
“At 740 hectares it will be one of Australia’s biggest cropping research stations, which means researchers will have the capability and capacity to run efficient short and long-term trials.
“The property has significant on-farm water storage, along with bore and river irrigation options, and this water security will also broaden the scope and reliability of research options.
The property has significant on-farm water storage, along with bore and river irrigation options, and this water security will also broaden the scope and reliability of research options.
“Importantly, it will enable focused, innovative RD&E that addresses major constraints and challenges to farm profitability in this region now and into the future.”
“Strategically, this investment is in close proximity to established Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) grains research centres in Toowoomba and Warwick, along with key research partners like the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), University of Queensland (UQ) and CSIRO.”
Mr Woods said while DAF and GRDC were co-investors in the Trust with the aim of developing the ‘fit-for-purpose’ property, it will be administered by a trustee company, Queensland Crop Research Limited (QCR), on behalf of the Australian grains industry and only ever be used for scientific research to benefit growers.
QCR Trustees include Goondiwindi grain grower Tom Woods Chair, Toowoomba-based wheat breeder John Sheppard, former GRDC Northern Regional Panel Chairman James Clark, and Nobby grain grower Chris Bazley. The inaugural Chair of the Trust was Pampas grain grower Lyn Brazil.
- The gross value of production of Queensland’s grains and crops is estimated to be around $4 billion in 2016-17. Apart from sugar and cotton, the major contributors are wheat, chickpeas and sorghum.
- DAF and GRDC have co-invested $11 million ($5.5 million each) into an industry trust which has purchased a Darling Downs farming property that will be developed into a world-class research facility for grains and crops.
- The research facility will be overseen by a trustee, Queensland Crop Research Limited (QCR) Trust on behalf of Australian grain growers.