New crop research facility at Hamilton to boost grain production in high rainfall zones

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Image credit: www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net user: Serge Bertasius Photography

Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, yesterday reviewed construction of a new $582,000 crop research facility at Hamilton that will enable researchers to increase grain production in the high rainfall zones of Victoria.

Image credit: www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net user: Serge Bertasius Photography
Image credit: www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net
user: Serge Bertasius Photography

The new Managed Environment Facility (MEF) at Hamilton – which is funded by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) – is part of the high rainfall zone grains research program that will allow researchers to conduct field experiments in a maintained, managed environment.

Minister Pulford said the MEF will support field research to help identify adaptive traits and management strategies, especially in high rainfall zones.

“By using better varieties and practices, we could double crop yields in Victoria’s high rainfall zone. We’re supporting this facility, which is on track for completion. The research it will enable will boost our grain industry, creating jobs and growth and preparing it for variability and future climate change.”

According to Ms Pulford, the crop research facility consists of three shelters – each measuring 20m by 10m – built to simulate drought conditions and an irrigation system to supplement rainfall and simulate high rainfall conditions, supporting research to improve the productivity of field crops.

“The shelters measure 20m by 10m and have solar-driven movable steel frames covered in polycarbonate which automatically move across the crop when sensors detect rain,” the Minister said.

She pointed out that demand for wheat and canola has increased tenfold over the past 20 years, making the contribution of grain from high rainfall zones vital as production declines in lower rainfall areas due to Victoria’s variable climate.

“Increasing wheat and canola yields by 50% or above would generate around $1.2 billion in our grains industry,” Ms Pulford said.