The next generation of agricultural crops that can withstand the effects of climate change and increase food security will be identified at a new major research centre to be based at The University of Queensland.
The Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan MP has announced $35 million in funding to establish the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC said this Centre would make an important contribution to Australian agriculture.
“It will deliver innovative and world-leading research to improve crop resilience and boost yield which will help provide solutions to the critical issues of climate change and food security,” Professor Høj said.
“We are excited by this announcement – it underscores our exceptional researchers and the quality of research being undertaken at UQ.
“The ARC Centres of Excellence scheme funds highly innovative and transformational research and this is the ninth Centre of Excellence established at UQ, which is an outstanding achievement.”
Director of the new Centre UQ’s Professor Christine Beveridge said the team would identify nature’s success stories and translate these into opportunities to enhance yield and resilience in agricultural crops.
“Around two-thirds of the world-wide human calorie intake comes from just three plant sources – wheat, rice and corn,” Professor Beveridge said.
“Future-proofing these crops against diverse climates including drought, and expanding gains in diverse plants is a must in order to improve food security for the projected 25 per cent increase in world population over the next 30 years.
“By predicting the plant varieties that are best for particular environments we can help farmers choose which plants to grow in what areas for each season for the best yield.
“An important component of the Centre is the focus on the regulatory requirements which will allow the new technologies to be scaled globally to future-proof agriculture in Australia and around the world.”
The Centre will lead a global research network to translate novel genetic discoveries into on-farm crop productivity.
UQ will collaborate with four Australian universities and CSIRO, as well as 12 other academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia, USA and Canada.
Together they will provide an additional $75.2 million in cash and in-kind support to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture.