International Centre of Crop and Digital Ag opens at Narrabri

Grain Central, August 30, 2023

NSW Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty with University of Sydney Dean of Science Professor Marcel Dinger, AGT chair Robert DiMonte, NSW Wheat Research Foundation chair Rob Long, GRDC chair John Woods and Member for Barwon Roy Butler. Photo: Tara Moriarty MLC

A NEW ERA for agricultural research has germinated in Narrabri with the official opening yesterday of the world-leading $15.2-million International Centre of Crop and Digital Agriculture.

Featuring digital, genetic, agronomy and soil laboratories, plus teaching and industry-briefing spaces, the centre has been delivered by the NSW Government in partnership with the University of Sydney, Australian Grain Technologies, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, and the NSW Wheat Research Foundation.

Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW Tara Moriarty said the centre will enable Australian industry to grow more resilient crops essential for feeding future Australians.

“The International Centre of Crop and Digital Agriculture in Narrabri cements NSW’s reputation as a regional, national and international agricultural research hub for groundbreaking grain research,” Ms Moriarty said.

“Using the hi-tech facilities, researchers will focus on adapting crops for drought-tolerance, providing food security solutions and boosting the productivity of farmers.

“This world-class facility also enhances collaboration between researchers and growers to progress our knowledge and practical implementation of robotic farming and data-driven agriculture.”

The University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston said the mission of the centre is to help transform global food security, environmental sustainability, and economic resilience.

“The research undertaken at the International Centre of Crop and Digital Agriculture will focus on adapting crops for drought and heat tolerance, providing sustainable food security solutions and boosting the productivity of farmers,” Prof Johnston said.

“We have been leading agricultural innovation at Narrabri for 60 years and we are focused on delivering for the next 60 years and beyond.”

AGT chief executive officer Haydn Kuchel said the expansion of research capacity at Narrabri has highlighted the importance of the IA Watson Grains Research Centre to agricultural improvement in the north.

“We are proud of our contribution to this investment in northern Australian agriculture, which will help to bring more talented people into the region, working together to find solutions to the challenges that face Australian farmers,” Dr Kuchel said.

“AGT is committed to delivering better varieties for farmers in the north, and our collaboration with other researchers at the IA Watson Grains Research Centre is a key part of that.”

GRDC chair John Woods said an additional $1M had been invested by GRDC on behalf of Australian grain growers to improve and expand these vital research facilities.

“We appreciate the NSW Government recognising the need for an industry-led approach to improving and expanding the research capacity in Narrabri which is one of the state’s oldest, most strategically important and successful centres,” Mr Woods said.

“With our long-standing relationships with each partner, we are pleased to contribute to this opportunity where, on behalf of our growers, we can co-invest in a world-class facility and deliver long-term research outcomes in northern NSW and benefit Australian grain growers.”

NSW Wheat Research Foundation owns the IA Watson Grains Research Centre, and WRF chair Rob Long said the state-of-the-art labs and offices are a massive boost for grains research in regional Australia.

“These new facilities complement the research farm which plants over 40,000 irrigated plots every year on Narrabri’s rich vertosol clay soils,” Mr Long said.

“What an enticement for postgraduate students, national and international researchers and industry leaders to come together in Narrabri for the purpose of improving crop performance for Australian farmers.

“WRF led this building project and there are plans for additional future collaborative developments.”

The International Centre of Crop and Digital Agriculture was made possible by $10.5M from the NSW Government, $1.7M from the University of Sydney, $1.5M from AGT, $1M from GRDC and $500,000 from NSW Wheat Research Foundation.

Source: NSW Government


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