​Media Release

New grains partnership to drive innovation

2 June 2015

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today welcomed the announcement of an historic new research partnership to identify and develop the next generation of herbicides for the grains industry.

Minister Joyce said the agreement between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), and Bayer CropScience was a welcome boost for Australia's grain farmers.

"This is exactly the kind of strong partnership in innovative research between government and industry that will keep Australia at the forefront of world grain production and which will ultimately grow our soft commodities sector," Minister Joyce said.

"If we stand still we're going backwards.

"Our wheat, other grains, pulses and oilseeds industries are a massive contributor to our economy—the gross value of production and exports in 2014–15 are estimated to be at $13.4 billion and $10.5 billion respectively.

"This agreement will seek to develop new herbicide chemistry that is vital to sustainable modern crop production systems. In particular, this partnership aims to overcome the growing incidence of chemical resistance by identifying new active ingredients.

"Weeds impose significant costs to farmers and represent a huge burden on farmgate returns—it's estimated that weeds cost our growers more than $3 billion every single year.

"At a global level, Australia is not considered a major market for the development of herbicides, so it's really pleasing to see the GRDC investing $45 million over five years and working with a globally respected research company to ensure our farmers are in the box seat to take advantage of the newest developments in this key area.

"Our nation's grain industry will also benefit by having this innovative molecular research applied to Australian weeds in Australian conditions via two selected field trial sites. Additionally, eleven post-doc scientists' positions will be offered to Australian researchers giving them the opportunity to be a part of this world leading program.

Minister Joyce said the new five-year partnership was on the back of strong investment in research and development (R&D) by government and will complement efforts to improve registration processes for crop protection products like herbicides.

"The Australian government provides more than $700 million a year on rural R&D and extension activities, including more than $68 million to GRDC in 2014–15 in matched contributions," Minister Joyce said. 

"We've also just announced successful projects under the $100 million Rural R&D for Profit programme that encourages innovative research partnerships with the 15 rural research and development corporations. This includes almost $1.9 million for a project to fast-track delivery of weed biocontrol agents to farmers.

"Farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years for each dollar the government invests in agricultural R&D—so it's a simple equation for us.

"We are some of the most resourceful, resilient and productive primary producers on the planet, but we need to keep encouraging innovation and research to make sure we stay that way."

For more information on the Herbicide Innovation Partnership, visit www.bayercropscience.com.