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    FUTURE: From left, BASF Head of Agricultural Solutions for Australia and New Zealand Gavin Jackson, BASF Head of Seeds Rob Hall and senior vice president, Crop Agricultural Solutions, Asia Pacific Gustavo Palerosi Carneiro. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Seeds research pays dividends

By Lotte Reiter

The products of a near decade-long breeding program at BASF’s Longerenong Wheat and Oilseed Breeding Centre will reinforce Wimmera agricultural influence on a global scale.

Combining about nine years of research and development, international chemical giant BASF will launch the commercialisation of four new wheat seed varieties in 2021.

The company made the announcement at its Longerenong facility, at Longerenong College grounds, in front of regional growers and industry stakeholders.

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Selected for yield, quality and agronomic adaptability and developed for New South Wales and Victoria, the four wheat varieties are the first BASF would commercialise world-wide.

BASF Head of Seeds Rob Hall said their launch was as much a company milestone as it was testament to regional agricultural innovation and the Wimmera’s reputation for being a centre of excellence for grain.

“It’s exciting for all those involved, especially those in Horsham because they have been out in the field day in day out for many years and can now finally see the fruits of their labour,” he said.

“We started investing in our breeding program in 2010, opened our facility in Longerenong in 2014 and over this reasonably short period of time have developed a pipeline of new wheat varieties that have potential for Australian growers.

“It’s a very important milestone and the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication.”

BASF will partner with Australian seed company Seednet as the commercial partner licensing the wheat varieties. The company has also invested in research and breeding of canola varieties at its Longerenong hub and is set to launch a new canola variety, Invigor 4022, to Australia’s market next year.

While BASF’s investment in Wimmera-based breeding programs will ‘put the region on the map in terms of global agriculture’, it will also harvest benefits closer to home.

Mr Hall said the breeding centre was originally chosen for development in Horsham because of a need for consistent soil and water, but also for the collaborative potential with Longerenong College and Horsham community.

He said BASF’s investment offered long-term economic and educational assets to the region.

“Building the breeding station we have been able to produce jobs and income for the area, so there’s economic investment and secondary services benefit from that too,” he said.

“People have actually moved into the region to work on this. We’re also investing in agricultural education. 

“We’re linked to the college and involve students in programs and offer work.”

Increased productivity

Mr Hall said the wheat seeds, bred to meet issues associated with existing varieties, were part of a company business model focused on increasing Australian farming productivity.

He said BASF’s investment into wheat-breeding research would offer an alternative to growers in Victoria and New South Wales. 

“For farmers, because there are two very big wheat-breeders at the moment, BASF’s investment will increase consumer choice and overall market competition,” he said.

“Our overall aim is to increase the productivity of farmers.

“Most breeding programs target their varieties at the country they’re developed in, and because Australia is such a big country and there are so many micro-climates, wheat variety is suited to different regions.

“These varieties have been developed for throughout New South Wales and into Victoria, and they meet the mark. The yield out competes with existing varieties.”

BASF Head of Agricultural Solutions for Australia and New Zealand Gavin Jackson said the company would launch about 25 new crop protection products in Australia across the next five years.

He said about 13 of these were targeted for launch by the end of 2020.

The entire August 7, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!