FOR the first time in three years, research proposals to help the Australian rice industry achieve an ambitious target have opened.
AgriFutures Australia recently announced its first Rice Program open call since 2018.
The initiative, which closes on March 23, seeks to attract research proposals to help the Australian rice industry achieve its dry rice farming practice target of 1.5 t/ML by 2030.
The open call is a key step towards the transformational change needed for the industry to remain a competitive user of farm business resources.
AgriFutures research manager Lucinda Staley said this was only possible due to the value rice growers place on research, development and extension (RD&E).
"The rice industry should be congratulated for their foresight and the value that growers and industry place on the rice levy," she said.
"Australian grown rice uses 50 per cent less water than the global average.
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"This is predominately due to the industry's adoption of world-best management practices and commitment to research and development into high yielding rice varieties that use less water.
"It's been a tough couple of years for the industry, and while C21 is looking promising, the levy increase (from $3 per tonne to $6 per tonne), and a one-off special payment from the Australian government, ensures the rice program has the resources to commit to funding a new round of projects focused on addressing the industry target."
SunRice Grower of the Year, Leeton's Peter Draper, reinforced the importance of RD&E to meet the industry's target.
"It is not enough that Australian rice growers have the highest average yields in the world at the highest water use efficiency," he said.
"To remain profitable, we need to continually increase production and quality with less resources and our only option to achieve this is through high quality research, development and extension."
According to Ms Staley, achieving the required level of productivity requires 12 to 16 tonnes of paddy rice produced from about eight to 11 megalitres per hectare of water.
Reaching this will require a significant increase in on-farm productivity, focusing on increased yield potential, while at the same time maintaining premium quality access to markets, reducing costs in the production system, and improving water use efficiency.
To achieve the step-change required for the industry, AgriFutures Australia is encouraging research proposals with collaborative, multi-institution teams with complementary skills in R&D, as well as expertise in specific technologies and products.
To remain profitable, we need to continually increase production and quality with less resources and our only option to achieve this is through high quality research, development and extension.Leeton's Peter Draper
It is expected all relevant research outputs will be tested at grower level throughout the life of the project to facilitate rapid on-farm adoption of project outcomes.
Proposals must incorporate a plan that clearly demonstrates how the team will work with the industry extension program.
For more information visit https://www.agrifutures.com.au/researchers/rice-program-open-call-2021/.
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