Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud MP, has announced a major Innovation Grant of nearly $2m for a drought resilience project led by Dookie Campus, University of Melbourne researcher, Dr Dorin Gupta, which also involves local farming systems group, Riverine Plains Inc.
Minister Littleproud made the announcement during a visit with the Member for Nicholls, the Hon. Damian Drum MP, to the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus on Wednesday 2 March and said that the funding demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to harnessing innovation to better prepare for periods of drought.
Dr Gupta’s project, ‘Whole-system Redesign of Broadacre Farming of SE Australia’, is looking to redesign the whole system of broadacre farming in south-eastern Australia to plan for, cope with, and recover from drought, through an inclusive systems approach that brings together individual proven practices into diversified farming systems.
“This project will demonstrate how pulses can be used as an integral part of crop rotations in mixed and grain farming systems where farm resilience is further enhanced by incorporating native crops and grasses,” said Dr Gupta.
Alongside collaborators from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, several Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub partners will be involved in the project, including Riverine Plains and Birchip Cropping Group, along with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Black Duck Foods and Gap Flat Track Native Foods.
The project and the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub are funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.
Co-Director of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, Professor Timothy Reeves said he was pleased that all Innovation Hub Regional Node leaders from across the state were in attendance for the Minister’s visit.
“This is indicative of the trust and teamwork which has been built across the Victoria Innovation Hub to better serve our stakeholders, on farms, in the environment, and in rural communities” he said.
“We were honoured to have Minister Littleproud and Damian Drum MP visit and hear more about our activities in the Innovation Hub, including our unique approach to enhancing future drought resilience by focusing on the four key stages of drought – in the ‘good times’ before drought hits; in the period when drought is on the horizon; during drought – where most past work has focussed; and in the immediate drought recovery period,” said Professor Reeves.
“We’re continuing to build trust among government and industry that the Hub is where innovation and agribusiness can work together,” added Professor Reeves.
Riverine Plains is leading the North East Regional Node of the Victoria Drought Resilience and Innovation Hub and Chief Executive Officer Catherine Marriott said that it was lovely to hear how genuinely excited the Minister is about the collaborative, grass roots model operating in the Victorian Hub.
“We were able to showcase the collaboration we have with the other nodes and universities, as well as share examples of how the decentralised model is working, while bringing state and federal government, universities and the farming systems groups together,” she said.
“Riverine Plains is particularly excited about the Victorian Innovation Hub because it has enabled us to employ a livestock officer and launch our first-ever livestock project, which is a shift in focus that has been asked for by our members” added Catherine.
The Innovation Hub’s South West Regional Node Leader, Southern Farming Systems, was also awarded an Innovation Grant that involves the participation of other Hub partners, while a proof-of-concept grant of over $100,000 was announced for another University of Melbourne project that seeks to design and test a Drought Resilience Facilitation and Leadership Framework that identifies, builds, and sustains community capacity to implement strategic resilience planning.
For a full list of projects funded through the Drought Resilience Innovation Grants, visit: https://www.awe.gov.au/agriculture-land/farm-food-drought/drought/future-drought-fund/research-adoption-program/drought-resilience-innovation-grants
Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit www.riverineplains.org.au
More information or interview: Emily Thompson, Riverine Plains Inc (03 5744 1713) or email firstname.lastname@example.org