Pledge of $3 million for rural research in Wagga | Video

FUNDS FLOW: CSU deputy vice-chancellor, research, development and industry, Professor Mary Kelly and Grains Research and Development managing director Steve Jefferies. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly
FUNDS FLOW: CSU deputy vice-chancellor, research, development and industry, Professor Mary Kelly and Grains Research and Development managing director Steve Jefferies. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

FUNDING to the tune of $3 million will further cement Wagga’s position as a significant rural research hub. 

The Charles Sturt University (CSU) and Grains Research and Development (GRDC) partnership project allows for crop research and weed mitigation that will benefit the agricultural sector. 

GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies said the funds will help establish world-class glasshouses and phytotron plant growth chambers. “This state of the art facility is expected to improve the efficiency and productivity of crop research,” he said. 

He told a gathering at CSU on Monday morning that the GRDC had gone through a process to “re-clarify” its direction and purpose.

“It is our purpose to invest in grains research and development and extension to ensure the profitability of Australian grain growers,” he said. 

Mr Jefferies explained how legislation meant that GRDC had to work with industry partners to carry out projects.

“We need to partner with capable agencies with the skills and capacity to deliver on this purpose,” he said. 

In reflecting on the role of research and development within the grains and cropping industry he noted significant changes.

“Going back five to 10 years ago we were responsible for 35 per cent of the research and development … now that has increased to more than 60 per cent,” he said. 

He also highlighted what was widely known within the agricultural industry as a decline in the commitment to rural research from the public sector. 

“Here in southern NSW you are extremely lucky (because) you have a university such as Charles Sturt University … which is actively growing and investing in grains research and agriculture more broadly,” he said. 

“This is the first time GRDC has invested in a dedicated infrastructure program, not just in southern NSW but nationally, to support our research partners in creating critical capacity and capability,” he said. 

The $3 million announcement in Wagga was made up of $2.7 million from GRDC and the balance was a contribution from CSU. 

Mr Jefferies said the pledge was part of an overall $15 million investment in agriculture which covered a range of diverse projects. 

CSU’s deputy vice-chancellor, research, development and industry, Professor Mary Kelly said the investment would allow the university to continue to research and collaborate with stakeholders. 

Professor Jim Pratley of the Graham Centre said Wagga was at the centre of major agricultural research and projects.

He said the work had an emphasis on profits an sustainability along the entire agricultural supply chain.