WA nitrogen-use efficiency project kicks off

Grain Central July 2, 2024

WAARC WNUE project lead and Murdoch University’s Centre for Crop and Food Innovation director Professor Rajeev Varshney, AGT wheat breeder Dr Dion Bennett, and DPIRD portfolio manager genetic improvement Dr Darshan Sharma, in the AGT field in Northam where research trials are under way. Photo: WAARC

A WA Agricultural Research Collaboration project aimed at boosting wheat production in Australia by improving nitrogen use efficiency through innovative genetic research is under way.

The five-year Wheat Nitrogen Use Efficiency project will run through to March 2029 and addresses a key research priority of both the Grains Research and Development Corporation and WAARC.

Murdoch University is leading the research in collaboration with The University of Western Australia,  WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Curtin University and plant-breeding company Australian Grain Technologies .

The initiative has investment from GRDC, AGT and WAARC, including its six members DPIRD, CSIRO, Grower Group Alliance, Curtin University, Murdoch University and UWA.

WNUE project lead and Murdoch University Centre for Crop and Food Innovation director Rajeev Varshney said the project’s goal was to empower growers to access high-performing cultivars that maximised yield and grain quality while minimising environmental impact.

“Enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency is pivotal for maximising wheat yield, grain protein content and, ultimately, the profitability of wheat growers,” Professor Varshney said.

“While nitrogenous fertilisers play a crucial role in agriculture, wheat crops currently use less than 40 percent of applied nitrogen, with only 33pc being recovered in the grain.

“By collaborating with leading institutions and industry partners we are not only expanding our understanding of genetic regulation in wheat, but also providing practical solutions and tools for breeders to develop improved wheat varieties.”

The WNUE team will share the findings and outcomes of their research with the wider research community and industry.

WAARC director Kelly Pearce said four applied research projects had been launched under WAARC’s broader Grains Transformation program in the past eight months.

Dr Pearce said each project focused on creating impactful and enduring benefits for growers, the grains industry and the environment.

“The Wheat Nitrogen Use Efficiency project is another example of the shared vision and commitment of WAARC members, investors, and industry partners, who are working together to drive innovation and transformational change for agricultural research and development in WA and beyond,” Ms Pearce said.

GRDC managing director Nigel Hart said GRDC continued to invest in research projects that aimed to deliver positive outcomes for WA growers and the grains industry more broadly.

“Through the work of the WNUE project, growers will have access to improved wheat varieties with greater nitrogen-use efficiency, resulting in higher yields and higher grain-protein content with the same or less nitrogen inputs,” Mr Hart said.

“The project is poised to deliver new knowledge, tools and pre-breeding material that together will enhance grain growers’ profitability and improve sustainability of wheat production in Australia.”

WAARC’s other co-investment projects with GRDC include Lupin Disease Resistance, Harvestable Annual Legume Options (HALO), and the N-ABLE initiative, which is investigating new and emerging legume-crop systems for maximum biological nitrogen fixation.

Source: WAARC


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