SOUTH Australia will play an important role in protecting the nation's pasture diversity, with the Australian Pastures Genebank to be established in Adelaide.
Set to be home to more than 70,000 varieties of pastures and forage species, the genebank will be located at the Plant Research Centre at the Waite Campus in Adelaide.
The pasture facility follows in the footsteps of the Australian Grains Genebank, which opened in Horsham, Vic, earlier this year.
SARDI scientist and genebank curator Steve Hughes said that plant diversity was critical for national and global food security.
“Such diversity helps grazing and mixed farming enterprises to adapt and remain competitive with the challenge of a changing climate or whatever other challenges the future may bring,” he said.
“The operations of the Australian Pastures Genebank will be critical to help agriculture adapt to the future and would benefit not only primary producers, but also seed companies, breeders, processers, research, education, the environment and regional farming communities.”
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said the genebank would provide valuable seed for future breeding programs.
“Every cattle, sheep, wool and dairy producer in the country relies on pasture species which grow well, or are bred for, various climatic and soil conditions around Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
“From subterranean clover to grazing tolerant lucernes bred in SA, these pastures have supported our livestock and other industries for generations. Further improving yield and productivity will be essential in meeting our food and fibre demands, and helps producers bring a greater return to the farmgate.
“Now, samples from thousands of pastures species will be preserved in a central location at the Waite Campus at Urrbrae in Adelaide – the largest agricultural research precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.
“This integrated, national approach to the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources will enable plant breeders to better access varieties with the traits they want.”
SA Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said robust and nutritious pastures bred for Australian conditions supported the premium meat, dairy, wool and mixed farming sectors, which contribute around $48 billion to the national economy.
“It’s fitting the genebank is located at SA’s Plant Research Centre where SA’s scientists have bred some of Australia’s leading lucernes, medics and clover varieties,” he said.
“With the bulk of Australia’s $100 million-a-year lucerne seed industry now centred in the South East region of SA, it’s also fitting that this centre is here in this state.”
The Australian Pastures Genebank will be managed by the SARDI.
The centre will be funded by MLA, AWI, GRDC, Dairy Australia and RIRDC.