The University of New England is part of a $5.2 million dollar funding grant for an R&D project lead by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) that will look at ways to secure pollination to increase profitability and productivity within the agricultural industry.
Dr Romina Rader from the UNE School of Environmental and Rural Science says the funding will help them discover more about pollination and production.
“This is a wonderful opportunity. We can now find out more about the relationship between pollination, fruit quantity and quality, subsequently improving crop production.”
The aim of the four-year project is to improve the health, diversity and abundance of pollinators – such as bees, birds, insects and butterflies on farms.
“By doing this we can increase the profitability and security of pollinator-dependent crops.”
The industry is also facing a biosecurity risk with the likely introduction of the Varroa mite to Australia. The project will also look at the best way to manage that risk.
Worldwide, insect pollinators significantly contribute to biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services within agricultural systems. The yield and quality of three-quarters of global food crops benefit to varying degrees from animal pollination with a global value of insect pollination services estimated to be between $US 200 and 600 billion.
“Ultimately we want to improve the yield and rates of pollination on farms, this will result in better productivity and profits for Australian farmers,” says Dr Rader.
The $13m project includes $5.2m funding from government and is a partnership between Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticultural Innovation Australia, the Universities of Sydney, Adelaide and New England, CSIRO, the South Australian Government as well as various natural resource management and industry groups.
Funding for the project was provided through the Federal Government’s ‘Rural R&D for Profit’ program.