RURAL Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) across the country are being encouraged to apply for up to $30 million in new funding for cutting edge research to boost productivity and returns across the agricultural, fishery and forestry industries.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said round three of the Research and Development (R&D) for Profit program would help drive agribusiness innovation.
“The Coalition Government knows how critical R&D is to productive and profitable industries and with new opportunities opening up in global agriculture, through the Coalition's various free trade agreements, producing high quality food to match consumer tastes and preferences is paramount,” Mr Joyce said.
“A previous project funded under the programme, the Multi-scale Monitoring Tools for Managing Australian Tree Crops project led by Horticulture Innovation Australia, uses the latest imaging and robotics to help mango, avocado and macadamia farmers to predict fruit quality and yield, and to monitor the health of their trees.
“The Smarter Irrigation for Profit project, led by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, aims to boost the profits of 3,000 cotton, dairy, rice and sugar irrigators by achieving a 10 to 20 per cent improvement in water use efficiency.
“Meat and Livestock Australia are also delivering a project that uses advanced measurement technologies such as x-ray and 3D digital imaging to more accurately determine meat yield and eating quality across the beef, sheep and pork industries.
"Consumers are benefitting at the supermarket with a selection of avocados with less bruising, the perfect head of broccoli for your family, sweeter oranges with less acidity and juicy mangoes for your summer salad, just some of the results achieved through rural research and development,” Mr Joyce said.
“Advances made in the agricultural sector are great examples of how RDCs, researchers and producers getting together and identifying common challenges and areas of research produces tangible results for the producer as well as the consumer.”
Round 3 projects will need to address one or more R&D priority areas: technology to enhance innovation of products, processes and practices across the supply chain; biosecurity to improve understanding of pest and disease pathways; soil, water and managing natural resources to manage soil health, improve water use efficiency, sustainably develop new production areas and improve resilience; adoption of R&D focusing on flexible delivery of extension services that meet producers’ needs.
“Fostering industry and research collaboration is a key focus of the programme and RDCs must team up with one or more RDC, research or industry partner. Strong collaboration across sectors will promote innovation and growth for the industry as a whole," Minister Joyce said.
* Note: Applications for this round closed on December 6. Future rounds will be announced in 2017.