ECU joins collaboration to bolster research and development for WA agriculture

July 29, 2022

The Collaboration will build on current research efforts to harness and apply cutting edge science and expertise to WA’s unique challenges and opportunities to contribute to our national and international agricultural priorities.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) will partner in a new whole-of-sector science collaboration aimed at reinvigorating Western Australia’s agricultural research and development capabilities.

The newly launched WA Agricultural Research Collaboration (the Collaboration) brings together leading researchers from ECU, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Curtin University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia.

The Collaboration will build on current research efforts to harness and apply cutting edge science and expertise to WA’s unique challenges and opportunities to contribute to our national and international agricultural priorities.

It will also support WA primary producers to adopt new agricultural technologies across grains, livestock and irrigated agriculture.

Backed by Western Australian Government investment of $25 million over three years, the Collaboration will attract additional funding from participants and other funders, including industry-based research and development corporations.

Six programs have been identified, with the first three focused on boosting agricultural productivity and profitability in the face of a changing climate. The first aims to increase the gross value of production through intensification of agriculture by 2030 by focusing on sustainable growth of irrigated agriculture and the northern beef industry.

The second, to transform the WA grains industry to achieve an average 25 million tonne crop per annum by 2035. And the third, to address climate change through technologies that can deliver and maintain agricultural productivity while reducing agricultural carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2035.

The final three programs will act as integrating initiatives to support growth and long-term sustainability of the industry, and will be focused on agricultural technologies, Aboriginal participation and capacity building for growers.

Professor Kerry Brown (ECU Research Theme Leader, Natural and Built Environment) said the Collaboration is an exciting initiative to foster and promote Western Australian research excellence in a wide range of agricultural research and development opportunities and respond to the unique issues facing the agriculture sector.

“ECU is well positioned with its world class research expertise in digital agriculture, climate resilience, agricultural research, logistics and supply chain management, and farm management to provide great benefit to farmers and communities in WA as a result of this bold venture,” Professor Brown said.

Senior Lecturer in ECU’s School of Science (Computer Science) Dr Leisa Armstrong said it is an exciting opportunity for the universities to work in a collegiate manner on a state-wide approach to pressing issues for industry.

“I am participating in at least three of the project missions, including one of the first to be initiated and one with significant funding that all the collaborating universities are involved in, the Grains Transformation project.

“The Northern Agricultural Region mission is another funded project, it will focus on improving productivity of pastoral lands and how to compliment beef production and alternative cropping,” Dr Armstrong said.

The Collaboration, which is expected to be fully operational in early 2023, complements the existing agricultural research undertaken by ECU industry practitioners through the innovative partnership with Rylington Park Institute for Training and Research in Boyup Brook.

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