LOCAL FOCUS: SARDI research scientist Penny Roberts at the Clare Research Centre that opened last week. The new facility will feature a climate-controlled growth room.

Vital grain facilities accessed

A $3.7 million grain research and development centre was opened at Clare last week to generate an increased capacity for research in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula regions.

A $3.7-million grain research and development centre was opened at Clare last week to increase research capacity in the Mid North and Yorke Peninsula regions. 

The Clare Research Centre was established on a PIRSA site that had facilities that were too outdated for the level of grain research required to further the industry’s development in the region. 

The site’s redevelopment will be home to high quality laboratory facilities and a climate-controlled growth room funded by a GRDC infrastructure grant of $270,000.

Clare-based SARDI research scientist Penny Roberts said the research team had outgrown its facilities and have to travel extensively to access equipment, which was using vital time that could be used on research.

“The new facilities has substantially increased our capacity to undertake our research but most importantly our ability to remain on-site,” Dr Roberts said. 

“We have a very big field research program but having such easy access on-site to a controlled growth room, spray chamber and larger greenhouse, will allow us to increase our herbicide tolerance and weed research,”she said.

“Ultimately that supports our field trials and enables us to speed up our research to get results back to the growers even sooner.”

The climate-controlled growth room will be used for evaluating plant growth under controlled environmental variables and allow researchers to grow plants for the entire year, as well as expand existing programs of herbicide tolerant pulses and weeds.  

”The site will also allow us to expand and modify as our research needs change. We could include humidity in the control growth room if that research becomes relevant,” Dr Roberts said.  

GRDC regional manager – south Craig Ruchs said the the corporation’s board approved the grant for the controlled growth room to ensure the Australian grains industry had world-class infrastructure to support research, development and extension. 

He said the funding for SARDI-PIRSA was one of five grants that were supported in SA, totaling about $2.3m of investment. 

“The biggest gain is the new facility will support SA graingrowers as well grain R&D on a national level – a lot of programs and trial work will be leveraged to the benefit of graingrowers nationally.”

The SARDI New Variety Agronomy group that provides applied research into SA regions will also be based at the centre, as well as support research programs undertaken by Biosecurity SA as part of a five-year $50m strategic partnership between the state government, PIRSA and SARDI. 

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