Two grants led by Vic Hub partners realise $15m funding in new, long-term, drought-resilience trials

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Victorian farmers and regional communities to benefit from major, long-term investments into drought preparedness.

 

Two applications led by The University of Melbourne and Deakin University – who are partners of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption & Innovation Hub (Vic Hub) – were successful in the latest Long-Term Trials For Drought Resilient Farming Practices grant scheme. 

 

The two projects, which are part of $38m in Federal Government innovation grants just announced, will:

  • provide rigorous scientific evidence for the effectiveness or otherwise of farming-systems adaptations hypothesised to improve drought resilience ofbroadacre grains, grazing and mixed-farming systems
  • investigate pasture diversity to build resilience, and support 365 days of feed production in southern temperate grazing enterprises

 

Professor Michael Tausz, Director of the Vic Hub, said the two Victorian research projects – among six announced nationally – are supported through the Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund (FDF).

“These projects will produce the robust evidence that industry needs to confidently adopt new drought-resilience practices. The announcement is significant – and unusual – because the grants support work over several growing seasons, bring trial work to the regions, and integrate and co-ordinate the work for maximum quality and impact.

“The Vic Hub brought together the different consortia and brokered the discussions, involving other partner organisations as appropriate in each consortium; the Vic Hub also played an important role in co-ordinating applications across Hubs.”

Prof Tausz noted that the projects are still subject to agreements and details may be changed.

 

Michael Tausz Dookie 2023-02
Professor Michael Tausz

Drought-resilient systems project, consortium lead Melbourne Uni – $7.2m funding

 

Prof Tausz said Vic Hub partners will investigate practices to improve drought resilience in mixed-farming, grazing and broadacre-grain systems. Core experiments in the six-year project will be established at the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus, and supported by field trials in the Mallee and south-west regions of Victoria, as well as in Tasmania. This project is also closely co-ordinated with one led by the Southern NSW Drought & Innovation Hub, based at Charles Sturt University, covering mixed farming systems in southern NSW.

“The University of Melbourne, which hosts Vic Hub headquarters, will lead this project, with others in the consortium including the Vic Hub’s South-West Node, Southern Farming Systems; our North-West Broadacre Cropping Node, Birchip Cropping Group; our North-East Node, Riverine Plains; and Federation University; as well as partners from the Tas Farm Innovation Hub.”

 

365-day temperate feed production project, consortium lead Deakin Uni – $7.99m funding

 

This project will research diversity in pastures to build resilience and support year-round feed production in southern, temperate grazing systems. It will specifically investigate the summer feed-gap and climate-resilience outcomes across commercial and research field sites in dairy cattle and beef-grazing industries.

Core experiments will be established at the Agriculture Victoria research farms in Hamilton and Ellinbank, and supplemented by field sites from Gippsland through Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Deakin University, which hosts the Vic Hub’s Knowledge Broker team, will lead this consortium, which includes the Vic Hub’s South-East Node, Food & Fibre Gippsland, along with Vic Hub partner Agriculture Victoria; it also includes SA, WA and Tasmanian partners.

 

Drought preparation bodes well for climate adaptation

 

In announcing the successful applicants for the Long-Term Trials For Drought Resilient Farming Practices grants, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “Australian farmers are always gearing up for the next drought – it’s a matter of when, not if.

“And I’m proud to say that Australian farmers are some of the best in the world at preparing for and managing drought, which puts them at the forefront of climate adaptation.

“Being prepared for drought is not just good for farmers, it’s also important for rural and regional communities, supermarket consumers and Australia’s trade industry.”

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt, said, “This program is about advancing projects that we hope will make a real difference in a future droughts.

“These projects – like crop rotations, soil management, grazing techniques and infrastructure – will arm farmers with robust information to invest in technologies and practices that have been proven across different landscapes and conditions.”

The Vic Hub’s Michael Tausz said the projects will test novel farming methods in the grain cropping and livestock sectors, which account for about 60% of all farming businesses. The evidence-based approach will provide farmers with the information and confidence they need to implement proven drought-resilient practices that are tested across seasons and varying climatic conditions.

The long-term trials will run across different landscapes, production systems and seasons until 2027/28.

The program represents a new direction for the FDF in providing long-term funding to facilitate sustainable change in farming practices that will help strengthen the resilience of farmers to drought conditions and a changing climate.

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