Grain growers in the Mallee are set to reap the benefits of the recent appointment of Regional Research Agronomist (RRA) Audrey Delahunty.
Based in Mildura, and partnering with industry stakeholders, Ms Delahunty will be undertaking and supporting targeted grains research and development.
Audrey DelahunteyMs Delahunty's role will complement the Regional Research Agronomists Program focussing on the medium rainfall zones within Victoria.
RRA program leader Dr James Nuttall said the program was designed to support the delivery of national research outcomes through collaborative validation and translation work with R&D organisations and agribusiness as well as building capability through the graduate development program.
The program is funded through a research partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Victorian Government, through Agriculture Victoria.
Ms Delahunty's background is in pulse agronomy, where her PhD focus was 'Improving the tolerance of lentil to high temperature tolerance through genetic solutions'.
Ms Delahunty said she was excited about starting in the new role at Mildura.
A key strength of the program is its diverse range of expertise, including frost and high temperature response and detection, soil constraints, climate change, crop nutrition pathology and broadly crop agronomy.
To date, research and development across the program has targeted priority areas including mid-row banding urea in-season to improve nitrogen use efficiency; managing emerging diseases in high-rainfall zone canola and the utility of remote sensing for early detection of crop stress such as frost and disease.
Joining Ms Delahunty in the ADP will be a graduate, Kate Finger, further building research capacity within the Mallee.
For the next 18 months, Ms Finger will undertake placements within agribusinesses and grower groups gaining a broad grounding of grain production across the Mallee.
GRDC Agronomy and Farming Systems Manager for the Southern region Andrew Etherton said the joint Agriculture Victoria-GRDC program aimed to accelerate the development of new grains sector agronomists who could work across industry to develop important networks and a diverse skill base.
"A newer generation of people applying new thinking to technology under the guidance of experienced researchers will meet a vital need for succession planning within the grains industry," Mr Etherton said.
"The approval of both a Regional Research Agronomist to the low rainfall zone and the expansion of the ADP opens up real opportunities and capability development in grains across the southern region," he said.
The ADP has been extremely well received by industry with previous graduates recruited to a range of grains related organisations.