Bilby bounces into oats industry

Jessica Bassano September 9, 2019

AN OAT variety developed in South Australia promises to be a healthier option for consumers and offer significant benefits for farmers.

Launched in Adelaide, South Australia, the new Bilby oat has been developed as part of the National Oat Breeding Program, which aims to improve the quality of export hay varieties and the nutritional benefits of milling oats, among other things.

The National Oat Breeding Program is led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in collaboration with Primary Industries and Regions SA, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia, Uncle Tobys and Agrifutures.

The program has resulted in SARDI oat varieties accounting for up to 85 per cent of the 160,000-tonnes of milling oats grown in south-eastern Australia.

Uncle Tobys senior research and development manager John Pitcher said the company is looking forward to trialling the Bilby oat during the 2020 growing season.

“For over 20 years Uncle Tobys has worked closely with SARDI, through the National Oat Breeding program, to deliver oats that are not only good for our consumers in terms of taste and nutrition, but also good for our farmers and sustainability,” Mr Pitcher said.

Uncle Tobys Australia currently uses another of the National Oat Breeding Program’s oats, the Mitika, in more than 80 per cent of its porridge and muesli bars.

According the National Oat Breeding Program website, Mitika has increased levels of beta-glucan compared to other oat varieties.

Like Mitika, Mr Pitcher said the Bilby offered increased levels of beta-glucan, which helped to lower cholesterol levels.

“We are delighted that the new Bilby oat delivers not only increased beta-glucan to help lower cholesterol levels, but also enhances paddock yields for farmers, and we are looking forward to trialling the Bilby oats in the upcoming growing season,” Mr Pitcher said.

South Australia Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Bilby oat was expected to establish itself as a popular variety when it hits supermarket shelves in 2021.

“Farmers are constantly looking for opportunities to grow crops which not only have significant health benefits but provide higher yields and better quality and the new Bilby oat ticks those boxes,” Mr Whetstone said.

“The potential grain yield of Bilby crops, and the higher ratio of the edible part of the grain means higher milling yield, which is positive for processors.”

Heritage Seeds is the commercialisation partner for Bilby.


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