New Institute to help agriculture meet challenges

Scientists in the Plant Research Centre at the Waite Campus.
Photo by Randy Larcombe.

Scientists in the Plant Research Centre at the Waite Campus.
Photo by Randy Larcombe.

Full Image (227.77K)

Professor Roger Leigh, Director of the Waite Research Institute.

Professor Roger Leigh, Director of the Waite Research Institute.
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Australian agriculture must become even smarter to help overcome the major threats to production, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide's new Waite Research Institute.

The Waite Research Institute - which encompasses research at the University of Adelaide's world-renowned Waite Campus - will be launched today at the National Wine Centre, Adelaide, by the South Australian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, the Hon. Michael O'Brien, MP.

The Institute aims to ensure profitable and productive agriculture in the face of climate change, increased costs of energy, limited natural resources, urbanisation and environmental degradation.

"Agriculture must meet the challenges of the future against a background of declining land and water resources and the impacts that climate change will bring," says the Director of the Waite Research Institute, Professor Roger Leigh.

"The new Waite Research Institute builds on the outstanding research achievements of the Waite Campus, a campus that is internationally recognised for research of the highest quality, focused on innovative solutions for improving agricultural systems.

"The research that the Institute will provide - in partnership with government, industry, and research collaborators - is exactly the kind of innovation needed to help Australia's agriculture and related sectors to overcome the challenges of today and of the future.

"We need to address these issues from paddock to plate. It's a big challenge for researchers to do this. We've already discovered a lot of the easier solutions to the problems faced to date - we now have to be even smarter," Professor Leigh says.

As well as University-based research, the Waite Campus is home to a number of partner research organisations. Collectively the co-located partners have more than 1000 staff and postgraduate students and an annual research income of more than $110 million.

"Our agriculture sector is critical to South Australia," Mr O'Brien said.

"Creating new opportunities for agricultural production and exports, improving the health and wellbeing of South Australians and achieving sustainability are all key objectives in the state's Strategic Plan.

"The Waite Research Institute will provide a focus for research activities and will foster the growth of research.

"Importantly, it will also enable researchers to expand their links with industry.

"Outcomes of the Institute's work will include improved farming practices, new plant varieties better able to cope with climate change and disease, greater food security, more nutritious food, improved profitability for farmers, and a decreased environmental footprint for agriculture," he said.

Research activities in the Waite Research Institute include: plant and pest biology, plant genetics and breeding, integrated farming systems, soil science, food science, wine science, agronomy and agricultural economics.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha says the University's Waite Campus "remains the envy of many universities around Australia and the world".

"The co-location of the University of Adelaide with industry and government partners at the Waite Campus - such as PIRSA, SARDI, CSIRO and the Australian Wine Research Institute - produces unique outcomes that will ensure continued benefits for primary producers, industry, and consumers," he says.


Australian agriculture and food production

Australian farmers currently produce almost 93% of Australia's daily domestic food supply, and export 60% (in volume) of total agricultural production. Australian production represents 1% of all food consumed in the world, feeding some 40 million people each day outside Australia.

The world's population is expected to grow to 9.1 billion by 2050, a 36% increase. Global food demand is expected to grow even faster because of changing dietary habits and expectations.

The Waite Campus and Waite Research Institute

The Waite Research Institute has been named in honour of Peter Waite (1834-1922). The original Waite Agricultural Research Institute, founded by the University of Adelaide at Urrbrae in 1924, followed a bequest of 300 acres (121 hectares) of land by Peter Waite, which included historic Urrbrae House.

The Waite Campus is Australia's leading agricultural research, education and commercialisation cluster. It has the largest concentration of expertise in the southern hemisphere in the areas of plant biotechnology, cereal breeding, sustainable agriculture, wine and horticulture and land management.

Research centres associated with the Waite Research Institute include:


Contact Details

Professor Roger Leigh
Director, Waite Research Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 7136
Mobile: 0406 383 578

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762