Aussies lead wheat yield charge

08 Dec, 2015 01:00 AM
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The IWYP initiative aims to lift wheat yield potential by up to 50 per cent over 20 years.

AUSTRALIAN researchers are among those involved in the first globally-coordinated response to stagnated wheat yield progress.

In October 2015, the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) announced the eight projects selected in the first competitive call, which involved a rigorous international peer review process.

Five of the projects involve Australian researchers from the Australian National University; the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Western Australia; and the CSIRO.

GRDC chair Richard Clark said it was exciting that Australian researchers and the GRDC have a major role in the IWYP initiative.

“Given the calibre of grains R&D in Australia it is no surprise that three of the eight first-round projects selected are being led by Australian researchers, with an additional two projects drawing heavily on Australian input," Mr Clark said.

He said the success of Australia’s research proposals demonstrated the strength of the national pre-breeding research base, its standing in the international science and, in particular, wheat research community, and its relevance to the real-world issues facing grain growers.

Globally, wheat is the most important staple crop, and with population growth and changing diets, demand is expected to increase by 60 per cent by 2050.

To meet this demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1 per cent to at least 1.7 per cent.

The IWYP initiative aims to lift wheat yield potential by up to 50 per cent over 20 years.

The first round of research activity focuses on issues that are likely to be of strong interest to Australian grain growers.

These include optimising plant architecture, modifying flowering time, and optimising harvest index (the amount of grain as a percentage of the whole plant).

The GRDC is contributing more than $10 million over three years to fund the Australian streams of the IWYP projects.

“IWYP is recognition that we could only ever hope to achieve the impact we need for step-change in wheat yield by coordinating worldwide researc," Mr Clark said.

“And while it’s a calculated, long-range gamble that even global R&D might lead to the necessary step-change breakthroughs to lift yields, at least by working collaboratively at the international level we can offset the risks of such blue-sky R&D.”

Mr Clark said the GRDC has an important role in representing Australia’s R&D community through this global-level engagement and advocating Australia's R&D capacity to help tackle the key constraint facing the wheat industry.

“As one of IWYP’s 12 investment partners, we look forward to deepening the relationship, including hosting a visit to Australia in December by key IWYP representatives, Dr Richard Flavell and Mr Steve Visscher.”

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READER COMMENTS

Mark
8/12/2015 6:09:58 AM

I am sitting in the office paying bills and one particuly upsets me the EPR bill and I read this about GRDC.GRDC have been taking our Levy money and making plenty of noise on how they are spending it on all this R&D yet at the end of the day I fail to see much benefit coming from all this expenditure. We still have varieties that fall over when it gets a dry finish or Frost knocks it and yields are no better than 20 years ago. All the glossy mail outs and meetings held all over the country are doing little to my bottom line. About time we start receiving more bang for our hard earned buck.
muck jockro
8/12/2015 8:51:46 AM

Apart from the fact Mark that EPR's have nothing to do with GRDC I cannot see your point. If you don't think a variety is good enough don't grow it and therefore don't pay an EPR. if it is better than a non PR variety then make an economic decision and grow. Even with the EPR you will be better off.
Philip Downie
8/12/2015 6:52:12 PM

Mark are the companies GRDC has poured money into giving a dividend back to GRDC now they are making money? If not they are dumber than AWB who put a lot of money into the RVA and got nothing back.
Mark
9/12/2015 6:43:58 AM

Muck I don't normally reply to those who hide behind an Alias to throw rubbish around but I'll make an exception, EPR are annual charge from the breeder to grow what they claim to be the latest and best variety. Go to the list of varieties and try and find a Non EPR. The Point you miss is we a forced to pay the GRDC levy no matter what variety to pay for the R&D for which I can see little to no return on my Levy money. No matter what Gloss Richard Clarke puts on it. They need to be more accountable for the expenditure of someone else's hard earned. Phillip I don't know the answer.
angry australian
9/12/2015 8:00:15 AM

Go a step further Phillip. Is the GRDC paying a dividend to growers, either directly or through lower levies, for whatever profits are being made? It seems that the farmer is always throwing the party, but if anyone dare ask for a fair share for his investment the apologists dive on to justify why this shouldn't happen.

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