AUSTRALIAN Grain Technologies has bought 105ha of land at Wasleys to supplement area currently leased at nearby Roseworthy.
Located 70km north of Adelaide, the property was bought at auction on October 18, and its purchase is part of AGT’s commitment to reduce reliance on leased land for its breeding trials.
“We currently lease land at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy Campus farm to conduct a large number of trials,” AGT chief executive officer Haydn Kuchel said.
“The Roseworthy site has been a critical component of AGT’s success historically.”
AGT typically leases 100-150ha per year at Roseworthy, with different paddocks each time so crops can be grown in rotation to help nutrient retention and disrupt pest and disease cycles.
Mr Kuchel said the district was “a great location” for breeding, as varieties selected at Roseworthy seemed to be very widely adapted.
“We continue to expand our breeding efforts, working harder on wheat varieties, but also durum, barley, lupins and now canola.
“That means that we need access to more land, and it is very pleasing that we were able to secure our own land just up the road from Roseworthy Campus.”
“It’s part of AGT’s long-term strategy to ensure we have sufficient access to land in the local areas around our breeding centres in Roseworthy, Narrabri, Northam and Wagga Wagga.”
AGT SA trials manager Rowan Prior said the Wasleys purchase has added a level of certainty to AGT’s breeding efforts.
“Accessing a parcel of land like this will help us continue to deliver high performing varieties to Australian farmers.”
AGT SA operations manager Simeon Hemer said AGT was breeding an increasing number of crop types, and seeing continual growth of trial plot numbers.
“Being able to own a parcel of land of this size in an area where plant breeding has been successfully undertaken for over 100 years is a major step forward for us.”
News of the purchase has been warmly received by local grower Corbin Schuster.
“A plant breeder like AGT ideally needs to have control over how the land is utilised over a period of years, rather than having to adapt to someone else’s production cycle,” Mr Schuster said.
“From that aspect, I feel it will help improve the quality of varieties that are being released onto the market.”
In the Mid North region, farmer Lyndon Price, Crystal Brook, said he saw the purchase as a vote of confidence in Australian growers.
“When you see a company like AGT purchase land like this in the local community, it reassures me that they are here for the long haul, here to produce the best quality varieties that they can, with the best interests of the farmers at heart,” Mr Price said.
“Growing their business like this helps deliver new varieties adapted to the way we farm.”
AGT was established in 2002 by GRDC, the South Australian Government, and the University of Adelaide.
The company has since taken over Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland government wheat-breeding programs, as well as a private wheat-breeding program in Western Australia. In 2008, French company Limagrain became a minority stakeholder in AGT.