Opportunities for innovative research: AgriFutures Pasture Seed Program Open Call

21.02.22

Innovative industry-driven research submissions are the focus of the AgriFutures’ Pasture Seeds Program Open Call.

This Open Call is seeking proposals that are aligned with the Pasture Seeds Program Strategic RD&E Plan 2019-2023.  This plan seeks to ensure that the industry remains sustainable whilst increasing profitability of the industry and ensuring consistency and quality of supply of pasture seeds to meet market demand.

In this Open Call, we are seeking research proposals that align with the following RD&E priorities and objectives:

  1. Production and processing efficiency and profitability
  2. Sustainable certified temperate pasture seed production
  3. Connectivity and communication
  4. Building industry capability and capacity.

AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program Manager, Emma Rodham encourages pasture researchers as well as pasture seeds researchers to submit proposals that address the current industry challenges.

“AgriFutures Australia is committed to achieving significant benefits for the pasture seeds industry by implementing targeted and high-impact RD&E projects,” said Emma.

“We are keen to invest in industry-driven research, this may include pasture production research that can be translated to improve pasture seed production.

“We recognise that the parameters for biomass and seed production are different, and on occasion agronomic approaches that benefit biomass production hinder seed production. However, we are looking to capitalise on the wealth of research and research methods already developed for pasture production that may be translatable to seed production.

“Ongoing challenges surrounding export freight logistics and expenses require innovative solutions and it makes sense to investigate opportunities outside the seed industry to address these challenges.”

Fundamental to successful RD&E outcomes, AgriFutures Australia is focusing on projects that generate both practical and cutting-edge knowledge and innovation growers can readily adopt.

“We appreciate that our researchers are highly skilled in what they do; we also appreciate that extending research outcomes may not be a strength of every research team. To get the greatest benefit for industry from our investments, we are asking researchers making submissions to consider the need to collaborate with other providers on the extension component of their projects. This way, we are enabling research findings to be readily adopted to have real impact on farm.”

Opportunities to extend existing research outcomes

AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program Advisory Panel Chair, Lisa Anderson, sees a myriad of opportunities stemming from the Open Call to extend the learnings from existing research in the pasture and pasture seeds space.

“Current investment across a range of industry issues has yielded valuable outcomes, but we are keen to invest in novel projects that can build on these developments,” said Lisa.

“For example, previous investments have highlighted the impact of seasonal conditions on lucerne seed wasp numbers in the following season and skimmed the surface of potential control strategies. We can adapt from control strategies used in the northern hemisphere, but there is still work to be done in this area.

“Reports of bluegreen aphid resistance to current chemical control options in lucerne seed crops and pastures have sparked a need for further investment in alternative control options for this invasive and damaging pest.”

“As the demand for pollination services escalates across all agricultural industries, honey bee numbers battle to keep pace with demand, driving the need to explore pollination alternatives for lucerne and other pollination-dependent pasture seed crops.”

Pasture seed industry snapshot offers insight into research needs

The AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program focuses on certified temperate pasture species subject to the Australian Government pasture seeds levy, including lucerne, sub-clover and other clovers, medics, and serradella.

The pasture seeds industry is also significant in its contribution to the productivity of other agricultural sectors.

“Certified temperate pasture seed contributes to the productivity of pasture-based livestock industries, including beef, sheep and dairy,” said Emma.

“Sown pastures provide break-crop benefits to the grains industry and temperate pastures provide cut fodder for livestock industries. As such, the temperate pasture seeds industry relies heavily on the profitability of related commodities, such as milk and beef and has a strong dependency on inputs such as irrigation water.”

Emma pointed out that pests, diseases and export market demand variability also present risks and constraints to the industry.

“With the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel we have identified the following specific focus areas as priorities for investment in this Open Call:

  • Testing and understanding herbicide resistance in weeds of importance in pasture seed production.
  • Understanding and developing a response to bluegreen aphid resistance to chemical controls.
  • Methods for control of insect pests in pasture seed crops.
  • Combating high pH soils under irrigation to improve seed yield, with particular focus on sub-clover seed production.

We also welcome submissions that address the objectives of the Strategic RD&E Plan,” said Emma.

For more detail on the objectives read the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Strategic RD&E Plan 2019-2023

The Open Call closes at 12 noon (AEDT) on Thursday, 24 March 2022.

For more information on the AgriFutures Pasture Seed Program Open Call, visit: https://www.agrifutures.com.au/researchers/open-call-for-research-agrifutures-pse-22/

To read more about AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program, visit: www.agrifutures.com.au/rural-industries/pasture-seeds/