02/04/2014 - 12:13

Curtin launches $100m grains centre

02/04/2014 - 12:13

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Curtin University has unveiled a new $100 million grains research centre which will focus on reducing the impact of grain diseases and droughts.

Curtin launches $100m grains centre
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce at the centre's launch this morning. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Curtin University has unveiled a new $100 million grains research centre which will focus on reducing the impact of grain diseases and droughts.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce today launched the Centre for Crop and Disease Management at Curtin's Bentley campus.

The centre will house nine research programs, with a focus on issues ranging from fungicide resistance and disease control, to improved farm management practices.

It is hoped the centre will lift farm productivity by minimising the financial impact of production losses caused by crop diseases.

Wheat diseases cost Australian grain growers on average about $913 million a year, or more than $76 per hectare of production.

The federal government's Grains Research and Development Corporation provided $32 million towards the facility, with Curtin providing the remaining $68 million.

It is the first bilateral investment agreement between the GRDC and an Australian university.

Curtin vice-chancellor Deborah Terry said the GRDC's funding reflected a long-term commitment to agricultural research in Western Australia.

“With the agricultural industry undergoing rapid changes amid uncertain global economic markets and increasing climate variability leading to crop losses, there has never been a more critical time to invest in agricultural research and development," she said.

“Curtin’s bilateral agreement with GRDC is a significant investment in the area of crop and disease management and I look forward to seeing the research outcomes really making a difference to farm businesses and the wider agricultural industry.”

The centre will start with a project aimed at managing risk in low-rainfall production areas, such as the eastern Wheatbelt.

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