Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia

A 740 HECTARE property on the Condamine River, south-west of Toowoomba, is set to become one of Australia’s biggest cropping research stations after an announcement from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia Queensland to be home of largest cropping R&D facility in Australia

Kristy Moroney

The $11 million co-investment by the federal government and the GRDC through the Grains and Cropping R&D Trust, will see the Darling Downs farm become an epicentre for Queensland grains and cropping research.

The gross value of production of Queensland’s grains and crops was estimated to be around $4 billion in 2016-17 and apart from sugar and cotton, the major contributors are wheat, chickpeas and sorghum crops.

The Queensland farming 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 research, development and engineering.

“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,” he said.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The GRDC chairman said 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.

“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,” Woods said.