Lucinda Staley, Research Manager at AgriFutures said the Open Call was only possible due to the value rice growers place on research, development and extension (RD&E).
“The rice industry should be congratulated for their foresight and the value that growers and industry place on the rice levy,” said Ms Staley. “Australian grown rice uses 50% less water than the global average. This is predominately due to the industry’s adoption of world-best management practices and commitment to research and development into high yielding rice varieties that use less water.”
“It’s been a tough couple of years for the industry, and while C21 is looking promising, the levy increase [from $3/tonne to $6/tonne] and a one-off special payment from the Australian Government ensures the Rice Program has the resources to commit to funding a new round of projects focused on addressing the industry target,” said Ms Staley.
SunRice Grower of the Year, Peter Draper from Leeton NSW, reinforced the importance of RD&E to meet the industry’s target.
“It is not enough that Australian rice growers have the highest average yields in the world at the highest water use efficiency. To remain profitable, we need to continually increase production and quality with less resources and our only option to achieve this is through high quality research, development and extension,” said Mr Draper
Ms Staley added: “In practice, achieving the required level of productivity requires 12 – 16 tonnes of paddy rice produced from approximately 8 – 11 ML/ha of water. Reaching this will require a significant increase in on-farm productivity, focusing on increased yield potential, while at the same time maintaining premium quality access to markets, reducing costs in the production system, and improving water use efficiency.”
To achieve the step-change required for the industry, AgriFutures Australia is encouraging research proposals with collaborative, multi-institution teams with complementary skills in R&D, as well as expertise in specific technologies and products.
It is expected that all relevant research outputs will be tested at grower level throughout the life of the project to facilitate rapid on-farm adoption of project outcomes. Proposals must incorporate a plan that clearly demonstrates how the team will work with the industry extension program.
AgriFutures Rice Program’s RD&E investments are driven by the Rice Program’s Strategic RD&E Plan, which address the needs of industries and stakeholders to ensure our priorities are industry and government driven.
In addition to the Open Call, in 2021 the AgriFutures Rice Program has commenced work and industry consultation for the development of the Program’s new Strategic RD&E Plan.
The AgriFutures Rice Program open call closes on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 at 5pm (AEDT). For full details on the criteria for submission visit agrifutures.com.au/researchers/rice-program-open-call-2021/