The announcement on 5 October 2017 of an $11m joint investment into a major Grains Research Facility will see South-East Queensland’s fertile Darling Downs region become a hub for grains and cropping research. A 740-hectare farming property on the Condamine River, south-west of Toowoomba, has been acquired to house the new facility, which is set to become one of Australia’s largest cropping research stations.
The facility will be funded jointly by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and managed through an Industry Trust known as the Grains and Cropping R&D Trust.
The Condamine River property will be developed into a world-class applied research, development and extension (RD&E) facility, to be operated by the Trust on behalf of Australia’s grain growers.
"This ... 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,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on announcing the new joint investment.
“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.
“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.”
The new facility will be open to public and private organisations undertaking relevant R&D, said GRDC Chairman John Woods, 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,” 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.
“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.”
“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.”
Woods noted that while DAF and GRDC have co-invested in the Trust with the goal of developing a ‘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 will only ever be used for scientific research that aims to benefit the nation’s growers.
QCR Trustees include Chairperson and Goondiwindi grain grower Tom Woods; Toowoomba-based wheat breeder John Sheppard; former GRDC Northern Regional Panel Chairman James Clark; and Nobby grain grower Chris Bazley. The inaugural Chair of the Trust was Pampas grain grower Lyn Brazil.