$64.3 million national plant research investment to support thriving ag sector

Joint media release with South Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Susan Close

The Albanese and Malinauskas governments are investing in Australian farmers and the future of our thriving agriculture sector with major new funding for world-leading plant science research.

This new $64.3 million investment will fund the expansion of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, with its headquarters at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus, giving Australian growers access to the latest crop know-how.

The Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) investment of $60 million is matched by a contribution of $4.3 million from the Malinauskas State Government and a further $5.6 million from the University of Adelaide. Further co-investment will build the total APPF funding pool to over $135 million. 

The funds will be used to expand APPF’s national network to nine partner nodes and provide a greater diversity of controlled growth environments and field phenotyping facilities. This will enable researchers to study plant development across the full range of Australian growing conditions, while supporting capacity building and job opportunities. 

Plant phenomics is an emerging field of research, combining traditional plant biology with robotics and advanced data analytics to rapidly test and evaluate new varieties under diverse growing conditions.

By using the APPF’s highly controlled growth environments, crops can be quickly assessed for their tolerance to a changing climate and ability to increase yield and nutritional value under different growing conditions.

This cutting-edge facility dramatically lowers the time and cost involved in developing new varieties and precision ag tools, giving farmers the ability to continue to produce high-quality crops while responding to climate change.

Expanding the APPF will increase its scope for collaboration with a wide range of local and international crop research projects, including its recently signed MOU with the German-based European Infrastructure for Plant Phenotyping.

The funding is part of the Albanese government’s $650 million investment to upgrade Australia’s national science and research infrastructure through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

Quotes attributable to Ed Husic, Federal Minister for Industry and Science

“Our produce is in huge demand all over the world, but to stay ahead of the game we need to be investing in the latest know-how in emerging fields like phenomics.

“The University of Adelaide’s Plant Accelerator is already doing impressive work in this field. 

“This joint investment between federal and state governments will catapult it into a position of world leadership and give our farmers the very best in plant science to work with.

“This is just one example of how the Albanese government’s $650m NCRIS program is upgrading Australia’s critical national science and research infrastructure at dozens of facilities across the country.”

Quotes attributable to Susan Close, State Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

"The South Australian Government is proud to continue its longstanding partnership with the Australian Government to co-invest in South Australian based NCRIS facilities – including the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, headquartered in South Australia. 

"Our state is home to six NCRIS-supported projects across 12 facilities, each established to provide local researchers and industry with access to globally competitive, cutting-edge research equipment and technical support.

"In the 2023-24 State Budget, we announced more than $25 million over five years to support the ongoing operations of all NCRIS projects in South Australia.

"This investment enables South Australian research institutes and businesses – such as in the agriculture, food and wine sector – to translate research into innovative products and services for broad community benefit.  

Quotes attributable to Richard Dickmann, APPF 

“We appreciate the support of Federal Government and State Government and other co-investors, and look forward to enabling a step-change in Australian food production, plant research and data science capacity.

“This significant investment will enable researchers to study plant development across the full range of Australian growing conditions, while building capacity and jobs in plant science around the country.

“It is about much better data, delivered much faster to drive the crop types and management strategies needed to deal with climate change and food security challenges.”