22/04/2021 - 14:00

National oat program comes to WA

22/04/2021 - 14:00

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Western Australia-based InterGrain will lead and commercialise an $11.5 million national oat breeding program to help farmers grow the high-value grain.

National oat program comes to WA
Tresslyn Walmsley (left), Anthony Williams and Alannah MacTiernan made the announcement this morning.

Western Australia-based InterGrain will lead and commercialise an $11.5 million national oat breeding program to help farmers grow the high-value grain.

The program will build on the hay and milling oat breeding by the South Australian Research and Development Institute, which previously ran the initiative for 25 years.

InterGrain was selected to lead the program and transition it to a full commercial model by 2025.

The $11.5 million investment includes a joint contribution of $5.4 million from AgriFutures Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, $5.4 million from InterGrain and $750,000 from the Western Australian Agriculture Authority.

Grain Research and Development Corporation managing director Anthony Williams said the overarching goal of the project was to ensure oats could be grown in as many places as possible.

“The oats development and breeding side of things is really about bringing another crop to the grower’s toolbox, particularly when it comes to better value and new export markets opportunities,” Mr Williams told Business News.

“It’s really about seeing somewhat of an R&D sector-managed event to a private sector-managed breeding program.

“The fact that the private sector has seen the attractiveness of oats and picked it up, I think, is a very significant win for growers.”

InterGrain chief executive Tresslyn Walmsley said they would work closely with SARDI over the coming 12-18 months as they transition the program to a commercial model and build on its research.  

InterGrain brings new technologies to the national oat breeding program, such as technology to enable genomic oat breeding at a very low cost,” she said.

InterGrain has developed a genomics platform with high SNP call rates and imputation for its barley and wheat program and will look to create a similar genomics tools to create a game changing asset for oat breeding.”

Ms Walmsley said InterGrain would work with industry to ensure national breeding targets were prioritised, on-farm activity increased and market share, domestically and globally, continued to grow.

Program priorities in the short term include increasing population sizes and selection intensity, reducing the time for variety development cycle, and improving the seed delivery pipeline.

In the medium term, it will develop and apply genomic selection methods and high throughput phenotyping of hay and yield quality. Longer term, the program is aiming to widen the oat gene pool.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the move would deliver on-the-ground benefits to local farmers.

"Alongside our $10.1 million election commitment towards oats, leading the national oat breeding program will help WA farmers capture a greater share of the burgeoning international market demand for superfoods like oats,” she said.

"It will help farmers to diversify their products and markets, improve their productivity and profitability, and drive local jobs across regional WA."

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