University to lead Victoria drought resilience hub

University of Melbourne Newsroom
University to lead Victoria drought resilience hub
University to lead Victoria drought resilience hubL-R: Fiona Hart, Riverine Plains; Professor Richard Speed, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global and Regional), La Trobe University; Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, the University of Melbourne; The Hon. Damian Drum, Federal Member for Nicholls; Professor Tim Reeves, Enterprise Professor In Sustainable Agriculture, the University of Melbourne; Scott Chirnside, Southern Farming Systems; Associate Professor David Ulgade, Enterprise Fellow (Land and Environment), the University of Melbourne; Angela Avery, Agriculture Victoria. Photo credit: Kate Norman/University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne will lead a unique state-wide partnership to help farmers, agricultural businesses and communities become more resilient to the impacts of future droughts.

The Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub will play a critical role connecting these sectors to innovative technologies and practices. It will also translate research and knowledge into impactful outcomes and support take-up through testing, adoption, and scaling-up of new solutions and commercialisation.

The Victoria Hub, which will be led from the University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus, has received $8 million in funding over the next four years from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, and plans to be operational by the end of April. It is one of eight drought resilience hubs across Australia.

The other partners in the Victoria Hub are five farming groups – Birchip Cropping Group, Food & Fibre Gippsland, Southern Farming Systems, Riverine Plains and the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre – together with Deakin University, Federation University, La Trobe University and Agriculture Victoria.

Hub Co-Director Professor Tim Reeves, from the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, said this investment will make a real difference to how we deal with future droughts on farms, in the management of our environment, and in our communities.

“This hub brings together a great team focussed on delivering real impacts for the agri-food sector in Victoria, in terms of enhanced drought resilience and greater adaptation to our changing climate,’’ Professor Reeves said.

“A feature of this hub is the unprecedented co-operation between the partners to co-design and co-govern innovative approaches to future drought resilience. It bodes well for the team to make a real difference to our regional industries and communities.’’

The Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, Professor John Fazakerley, said, “This hub will demonstrate how organisational collaboration coupled with interdisciplinary research can address the drought-related critical challenges of environmental resilience, food security and economic sustainability.”

Professor Ruth Nettle, from the Rural Innovation Group at the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, is also a Hub co-director. She said that the location of the Hub recognises the importance of education and research in Dookie. “Since 1886, Dookie campus has played a key role in the development of agriculture and agricultural teaching and learning in Australia. It continues to be a central point for the key research, teaching and technology development that is helping to shape the future of agriculture,” Professor Nettle said.

Federal Member for Nicholls, the Hon. Damian Drum announced the Hub at a launch event in Dookie. He said; “Victoria was hit hard by the recent Australia-wide drought, which took a heavy toll on individual household income, as well as entire industries and communities.

“Getting regional people working together to ensure research and development is useful for Victorians is a vital step towards successful drought management in our communities.”