$4.7m grant will boost pollination in protected cropping

18 July 2019

Plant & Food Research Australia is one of the largest investors of three university and industry co-investors contributing a total of $2.18M to the $4.7M fund granted by the Federal Department of Agriculture’s Rural R&D for Profit programme and administered by Horticulture Innovation. 

The project will investigate novel technology and practices for optimising pollination in protected cropping environments.

Protected cropping covers over three million hectares of crops globally and helps increase the reliability and duration of production. Covers are used to protect crops from extreme weather and pests as well as to prevent foreign pollen contamination. 

“Covers are an important tool for growers, but our research has shown that they can cause difficulties for crop pollination, especially for honey bees. This new program will allow us to work alongside researchers all over Australia to develop strategies to ensure adequate pollination, healthy hives and efficient production in protected environments” says Plant and Food Research Australia scientist Dr Lisa Evans.

This collaborative research project brings together lead researchers from across Australia, along with significant commercial growers, private industry groups, peak industry bodies and government. 

“This project aims to increase the productivity and profitability of pollination-dependent crops grown under protected cropping systems by developing new mechanical pollination methods, improving plant reproduction and increasing the effectiveness of insect vectors and pollination under covers,” says Ashley Zamek, Development Manager for Pollination at Hort Innovation. 

According to Ms Zamek, the methods developed would benefit all pollination-dependent cropping systems in fruit and vegetable seed industries in Australia, which have a combined worth of $2.4B per annum. It is expected that the tools developed through this project will enhance productivity and return on investment by approximately two per cent annually.

The project will build on knowledge and expertise gained across other relevant research programmes already funded through the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund and run by project partners including Plant & Food Research Australia, as well as research in New Zealand funded by Zespri International and the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said the government’s Rural R&D for Profit programme would help put cutting edge research and technology into the hands of farmers. 

“Investing in pollination now is vital to securing Australia’s food supply in the future,” says Minister McKenzie. 

Sarah Evans
Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
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Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
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