Growers call for value for money with research dollars

28 Dec, 2017 01:50 PM
The GRDC needs to sort the wheat from the chaff when making decisions about how to spend its research dollars.
The GRDC needs to sort the wheat from the chaff when making decisions about how to spend its research dollars.

THE CHAIRMAN of one of representative organisations (ROs) responsible for overseeing the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) says getting the organisation’s new five year strategic plan right will be critical in terms of satisfying levy payers.

There has been criticism from some grower-led research groups there was not enough consultation with grass roots growers before the plan was created, but Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said he felt most growers were happy with the direction GRDC was taking.

“I would say the investment process is not too bad from growers’ perspective at present,” Mr Weidemann said.

“The GRDC is currently implementing its five year plan and there are several key themes emerging,” Mr Weidemann said

“It is the start of the cycle and they are processing what people feel should be the research priorities and getting that mix right.”

Mr Weidemann said making sense of farm data was a new area that farmers were looking at and welcomed GRDC’s commitment to digital agriculture.

Earlier in the year, GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies said with the fast-evolving nature of technology in agriculture, digital ag would be a research priority.

Mr Weidemann said farmers had also conveyed a number of agronomic priorities to him.

“Over the last couple of years there have been a number of devastating frosts and people are very keen to see further research in terms of frost tolerant varieties.”

Grass roots participation in advising the GRDC of research priorities has come under question from some grower-led research groups, who have said growers need more input in terms of research priorities.

There are several other key areas Mr Weidemann said had been identified by growers.

Pulses, which have become one of Australia’s most important crop exports in recent years, were highlighted by Mr Weidemann as aan area needing more research dollars.

He said finding the best way to create alignments between grower groups, consultants and researchers would be important in GRDC delivering the best possible services.

A lack of consultation has concerned some grower groups in spite of the organisation citing a number of opportunities for growers to have their say regarding its future direction.

Damien Scanlan, chairman of the Grains Research Foundation (GRFL), a Queensland-based grower research group said he was unhappy with the level of engagement shown when developing the strategic plan.

“If you compare what they said they did to what happened in terms of getting grass roots growers involved, it was not the same,” Mr Scanlan said.

He said while the GRDC got grower input via the two ROs more interaction with the production sector is needed.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


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