Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 28, 2022


South Australian Research and Development Institute

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:11): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the chamber on recent achievements by the South Australian Research and Development Institute?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:12): I thank the member for his very important question. It is certainly a great privilege to be able to bring to this place acknowledgement of the achievements of some of the staff of SARDI. As many of you will know, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is the principal research arm of the state government, with a network of research centres, laboratories and field sites in metropolitan Adelaide and in our regions.

I was very pleased to see the ongoing work of our SARDI researchers has been recognised with two crop science staff achieving recent success in separate award categories. Dr Tara Garrard was awarded the Paul Johnston Memorial Award for the best presentation by a young scientist at the Australian Barley Technical Symposium held on the Gold Coast from 22 to 25 August. This award is judged on originality, knowledge of research, scientific merit, industry impact and knowledge of the Australian barley industry.

Dr Garrard’s presentation on fungicide resistance in barley in the southern growing region of South Australia summarised the research being undertaken in response to fungicide resistant net form net blotch of barley, a disease which I am advised was first found on the southern Yorke Peninsula in 2019.

The research, undertaken in conjunction with the Centre for Crop and Disease Management in Western Australia, has found fungicide resistance is becoming widespread in South Australia and into Victoria. The results allow growers and agronomists to adapt management practices and more effectively control this disease in barley to minimise yield losses.

Secondly, at the Wheat Breeding Assembly held in Narrabri from 28 to 31 August, Dr Mariano Cossani won the best poster award. His submission was titled, 'Symmetric response to neighbour in binary mixed cultivars associates with genetic gain in wheat yield over the last 5 decades'. This work was co-authored with Dr Victor Sadras. Their research paper identified that wheat genetic yield gains associate to phenotypes with reduced competitive ability.

The paper also found that less competitive, higher yielding phenotype has shorter plants with smaller root systems with compensatory higher nitrogen uptake per unit root length and erectophile canopy that favours more radiation and higher nitrogen concentration in leaves at the bottom of the canopy. The judges highlighted the scientific depth and industry relevance of this work. The manipulation of crop phenotypes with reduced competitive ability could improve wheat yield and meet future challenges associated with food security.

I would also like to mention that, in addition to working with Dr Cossani on wheat yield research, Dr Victor Sadras was also honoured as a fellow of the Australian Society of Agronomy at the 20th Agronomy Conference in Toowoomba. Fellowships are awarded for distinguished contribution to the field of agronomy. Victor was recognised for his exceptional publication and citation record, his contribution to agronomy theory and practice, his supervision of PhD students and his role as journal editor.

Finally, I would like to recognise Dr Penny Roberts, who is based at the Clare research centre, where she leads a team of nine staff, supervises a PhD student and mentors junior researchers. She was recently awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. With the fellowship, Dr Roberts plans to travel to Europe and North America to learn about the significant plant protein sector there, with the aim of bringing that knowledge back to Australia and helping us grow this industry here. There were only six fellowships awarded in South Australia, so this is an excellent achievement.

Dr Roberts has a passion for the application of agricultural science to address challenges, such as adaptation to climate change and supplying a growing population with nutritious food. In line with this, her current research is focused on supporting the development of the pulse grain sector in South Australia. Dr Roberts is currently research scientist, SARDI, and affiliate associate lecturer at the University of Adelaide.

I would like to extend my congratulations to these scientists on receiving these awards, which recognise some of the great work SARDI is doing to support the South Australian primary industries through applied research and development. They are further examples that demonstrate why SARDI has developed a reputation as a research leader and continues to assist to increase the productivity, sustainability and adaptability of the state's agriculture, food and wine, fisheries and aquaculture, and bioscience enterprises.