Go to top of page

Case studies

Wheat advances – feeding Australia and beyond

two machines in a field harvestingOur work is improving farm profitability for wheat growers and helping to feed the nation.

Ensuring a secure food supply while maintaining the integrity of our environment are two of the six challenges we are focused on solving through our multidisciplinary science. Australia’s $60 billion agricultural sector1 is on the frontline, grappling with these challenges on two fronts.

We are helping agriculture and food industries simultaneously produce more food sustainably for an increasing population using limited resources, while building resilience in the face of increasingly adverse growing conditions due to warmer conditions and reduced rainfall.

Over the past decade, our advanced wheat research into more efficient use of water, strategic sowing, better adapted varieties and improved farm management techniques has generated significant benefits, with one project alone delivering a benefit of $143 million, according to our investment partner Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Efforts to grow and protect Australia’s $7 billion wheat industry – Australia’s second most valuable agricultural product (behind beef)2 – are vital from economic and food security standpoints. We’ve approached the issue of improving wheat yields and profitability using a multidisciplinary farming systems approach.

The National Water Use Efficiency (WUE) Initiative revealed that a more than 20 per cent3 increase in WUE could be achieved using early sowing practices, which take advantage of soil moisture retained from summer rainfall. Importantly, it was the combination of improved management – no-till farming systems, improved rotations, and good summer fallow weed control – prior to the planting of the wheat crop that ensured the summer rainfall was captured and stored.

Further research into early sowing practices found additional benefits when integrated into mixed-farming systems (cropping and livestock), because the early-sown crops can be grazed during the vegetative stage without impacts on grain yield. Research conducted with GRDC and Meat and Livestock Australia found farm profitability improved by around $100/ha due to provision of forage during the winter feed gap. Dual-purpose crops also reduce risk as the climate becomes more variable by providing options to graze, cut for hay or silage, or to grow through to grain depending on seasonal conditions.

Our research has seen guidelines and recommendations adopted by agronomists and their clients across Australia’s cropping regions. These practices have been critical in securing Australia’s ability to export 10 per cent of the world’s wheat.

Our research has also highlighted the problems faced by Australian wheat farmers, with long-term reductions of in-season rainfall, compounded by increased temperatures between 1990 and 2015. With climate modelling predicting even more adverse conditions, research efforts continue to futureproof the Australian wheat and broader grains industry.

In early 2019, research published in Nature Climate Change demonstrated how genetic gains for fast winter wheat varieties and adopting further practices to early sowing systems developed by CSIRO could increase Australian wheat yields by as much as 25 per cent. That would equate to an additional 7.1 million tonnes of wheat harvested each year, worth approximately $1.8 billion to the national economy.

Agriculture has been at the heart of our research success for the past century. In order to feed and clothe the world into the future, our efforts will continue to build, maintain and improve Australia’s critically important agricultural systems.

Tackling drought with data visualisation

image of csiro's national drought map in useThe National Drought Map found at https://map.drought.gov.au/ brings together disparate information to help government deliver support to drought-affected areas that need it most

Droughts put farming communities under devastating pressure, push up food prices and hurt Australia’s economic growth. They are a constant threat for farmers, with climate and weather experts across the globe predicting that droughts will become longer and more severe in parts of the country.

Problems associated with droughts – adapting to the impacts of climate change, the sustainable use and value of our environments, and food security – go to the heart of our purpose; to solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology.

A key obstacle to combating drought impacts is gathering and interpreting disparate data to give a detailed picture. With this information, we can mobilise the most effective drought response, offering help where it will have the biggest impact.

CSIRO’s Data61, a specialist group of data scientists, used data science to combat the impact of drought, we worked with the Joint Agency Drought Taskforce and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Central Analytics Hub to create the National Drought Map.

The map uses Data61’s TerriaJS platform, building on our deep strength in mapping and visualising data in 3-D and 4-D. Terria also powers world-leading platforms, including Australia’s National Map and the United States Geological Survey’s Protected Areas Database of the United States Map, and will be a key component of our forthcoming innovative ‘Digital Twins’ virtual city models.

The National Drought Map is an online tool that integrates curated climatic, socioeconomic, program and service delivery data. It draws on data from more than 20 Commonwealth, state and territory, local government and non-government agencies. The map has an invitation-only interface for governments and other officially sanctioned groups, and a general website open to all on FarmHub, an Australian Government initiative administered by the National Farmers’ Federation. The National Drought Map received additional funding in the federal budget.

The National Drought Map demonstrates the myriad ways sophisticated use of data can tell a story of what’s happening in a local area. It gives unprecedented capability for informed decisions based on unique data combinations in an accessible format. The map facilitates response coordination: with understanding of conditions in regional communities, governments can direct information sessions and services, such as the Department of Human Services’ Mobile Services Centres, where most needed.

The National Drought Map also offers a new approach to collaboration among agencies, facilitating close relationships and bringing together decentralised data in an innovative data-sharing model. The federated data model used allows data custodians to maintain data ownership, hosted locally with their required security levels. This is an ideal solution given most data held by government is subject to legislative controls. This shift in the collection and curation of data has shown agencies a new way to share information while retaining control.

Now there are significantly changed expectations about the use of government data, with cultural changes in agencies partnering in the project. The Central Analytics Hub has received interest from areas across government keen to apply learning from the National Drought Map to projects, especially those using rich geographical data sets.

Metal membrane to power renewable hydrogen exports

Keith pitt standing with Larry marshall fuelling a toyota mirai with ultra-high purity hydrogenThe Hon Keith Pitt MP and CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall fuel a Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle with ultra-high purity hydrogen.

As the transition towards clean energy accelerates and as one of the six challenges, we are working on solving, there is an opportunity to assess how Australia’s vast renewable energy resources may be integrated into the domestic energy mix, and also exported.

One such avenue is hydrogen, created with renewable energy or through the application of low emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage. CSIRO’s National Hydrogen Roadmap, released in 2018, noted that Australia has the resources and skills to build an economically sustainable domestic and export hydrogen industry, which can help meet agreed emissions targets and address concerns around energy security.

Recent advances in solar and electrochemical technologies mean renewable hydrogen production is expected to become competitive with fossil fuel-based production, providing an opportunity to decarbonise both the energy and transport sectors while creating new export opportunities.

Due to its low density, hydrogen is notoriously difficult to store and transport. Similar issues were faced with natural gas, before solutions were found to liquefy, store, gasify and use it commercially. Australia is now among the world’s largest LNG exporters.

One way to overcome the limitations of hydrogen is to convert it to ammonia for transportation and storage, piggybacking existing transport infrastructure, then convert it back to high-purity hydrogen at or near the point of use. Our research – receiving initial Science and Industry Endowment Fund funding – has made this process possible by developing a metal membrane that allows hydrogen to pass through while blocking all other gases.

This technology has the potential to fill the gap in the value chain to supply fuel cell vehicles and power vehicles around the world with low-emissions hydrogen sourced from Australia.

In August, we collaborated with BOC, Toyota and Hyundai to successfully demonstrate this metal membrane technology by extracting ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia and powering two fuel cell vehicles.

In November, we announced a $20 million partnership with Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) on hydrogen technologies to help to develop new industries, create jobs and pave the way for low emissions export opportunities. The centrepiece of the partnership is an investment in our metal membrane technology. We will work with Fortescue to identify, develop and commercialise technologies to help create of an Australian hydrogen industry and future global uptake.

We are continuing our own investment in hydrogen research and development, chiefly through the Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platform, and will work with Fortescue to commercialise technologies that support new energy markets, including in the chemicals and transportation sectors.

Protecting Australia's valuable environment from rampant rabbit populations

the k5 rabbit team receiving the australian biosecurity award from minister littleproudThe K5 rabbit team receiving its Australian Biosecurity Award from Minister Littleproud.

Since the 1800s Australia has fought an ongoing battle against rabbits, a destructive pest introduced by European settlers. Thriving in Australian conditions, – perfect for all year-round breeding – rabbits spread across 70 per cent of Australia, causing devastation to Australia’s environment, native species and agricultural lands.

In modern Australia, the overall economic losses in the agriculture and horticulture industries caused by rabbits are estimated to be more than $200 million every year, and more than 320 native flora and fauna species are now threatened as a result of invasive rabbit populations. We have been focused on this challenge of ensuring we have a resilient and valuable environment for more than a century.

Over the years, biological controls have shown to be the most cost-effective, large-scale solution in keeping rabbit numbers low. Australia first turned to biocontrol measures to reduce rabbit population numbers in the 1950s with the release of the Myxoma virus, followed in the 1990s by the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV), commonly known as Calicivirus.

While these biocontrol measures are still having a major impact on controlling rabbit numbers ($70 billion of agricultural benefit over the last 60 years), their effectiveness has declined due to the inevitable development of genetic resistance to viral biocontrol agents.

In 2017, in the ongoing effort to stop rabbits from further damaging Australia's agricultural and natural environment and reaching the plague numbers seen in the early 1900s, we played a key role in the nationwide release of a new strain of RHDV, termed K5.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions brought together the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, CSIRO, federal and all state governments along with industry bodies, to develop the project. Members of the community including farmers, land management groups and volunteers, also played a pivotal role in the project, helping to release and then monitor the impact of K5 over 300 sites across Australia. Through this citizen-science approach, researchers were able to collect more data than would have been possible without community support, with participants involved in releasing the virus, monitoring, and collecting and submitting tissue samples for analysis. As part of the project, the National Rabbit Biocontrol Monitoring Program was developed to help track the spread and record the effects of the K5 release.

Our team developed and implemented near real-time diagnostic tests that enabled the project to monitor the spread and impact of the different types of virus in the landscape before, during and after the K5 release. The project reported an average reduction in rabbit numbers of 34 per cent one month post release at the release sites.

Ongoing monitoring by our team continues to provide critical data, which is fed into a publicly available rabbit calicivirus map of Australia, and provides information about which viruses are circulating and where. This map helps land managers in the development, coordination and timing of tailored rabbit management strategies, and aids veterinarians and pet rabbit owners in implementing biosecurity measures and, where available, vaccination strategies to protect non-target domestic rabbits.

The program will have a lasting impact on rabbit control measures by helping governments, researchers, industry and land owners to better understand the continued effects of biocontrol measures on rabbit populations, while informing the planning, implementation and tracking of future biocontrol release programs.

In 2019, the project received the Industry Award in the Australian Government’s Australian Biosecurity Awards, which recognises significant outcomes for Australia’s biosecurity system.

Science underpins future decisions on development in Northern Australia

image of the fitzroy river in western australiaInvestigating the Fitzroy River catchment in Western Australia to understand the scale and nature of future development opportunities.

The climate and soils in Australia’s north could support a wide range of agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture, and potentially more integrated, efficient and higher-yielding farming systems. It presents a possible solution to the challenge of increasing pressure on ensuring we have a resilient and valuable environment.

But despite long-term interest in developing Northern Australia, there has been little data and insights to support policy and investment decisions. Enter the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment (NAWRA).

We conducted this assessment, which was commissioned as an initiative of the Australian Government's White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. The assessment delivered detailed region-wide, finer-scale data not previously available and focused on three study areas: the Fitzroy River catchment in Western Australia; the Finniss, Adelaide, Mary and Wildman river catchments in the Northern Territory; and the Mitchell River catchment in Queensland.

Through extensive field studies and desktop analyses, the assessment investigated land suitability for irrigation or aquaculture, water storage and capture options, and potential impacts of those development options on regional economic outcomes and ecological impacts.

When landscape suitability outcomes were linked to water availability and economic viability, several messages emerged:

  • Diversification, such as adding forages into the existing cattle production, is a way to improve productivity.
  • Rethinking the scale of irrigated agriculture could open new opportunities. This could mean multiple, smaller irrigated developments.
  • Double cropping can increase revenue from each hectare developed.

The assessment engaged Indigenous people in the catchments, who hold water values, rights and development objectives, to better understand their perspectives on development.

This research required strong collaboration with multiple jurisdictions and agencies, involving more than 140 scientists across many disciplines, and 20 external organisations. The work required new scientific methods to be developed to assess such large areas quickly.

The assessment has produced web-based applications, including the NAWRA-explorer, which makes data publicly available, discoverable, and able to be updated.

The result of the assessment is publicly available data to allow an informed discussion on what is possible, desirable and achievable.

This has already translated to action, including a $3.5 million assessment of soil and water resources in the Northern Territory’s Roper River catchment and a water resource assessment in Norfolk Island. It has also provided technical information to inform the development of water and catchment plans by state and territory governments, as well as federal government investment initiatives such as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Flow chemistry, refining our art

a paint brush putting a new varnish over a painting from the National Gallery of VictoriaWe collaborated with the National Gallery of Victoria and used flow chemistry to create a new varnish that will protect paintings from ageing. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria.

Chemicals are an integral part of our modern way of life. Whether it’s a treatment for cancer, paint thinner or herbicides, the chemical has to be made using a particular process. Until now, these chemical processes have used a manufacturing method called batch chemistry. But flow chemistry is having a huge impact in helping us to solve the greatest challenges and create future industries for Australia.

A batch process involves chemicals being produced in large containers, batch reactors. Because of the underlying physics associated with large batch reactors, it is difficult to adequately control the temperature and the mix of the ingredients.

Getting the batch chemistry process right can take significant amounts of tweaking, often resulting in high levels of unwanted products, and costly and time-consuming purification. Batch chemistry can also be quite risky for operators as they need to check, adjust and re-check the processes, which can expose them to dangerous liquids and fumes and, at worst, runaway reactions that can lead to explosions.

Unlike batch chemistry where the reactants are combined in one go, the new process, flow chemistry, involves combining reactants continuously in a flowing tube. Flow chemistry processes can be used for small and large volumes and are controlled using advanced technology, which saves time, cuts energy costs and reduces waste. It also circumvents the need for operators to intervene between reactions, which keeps them safe.

Boron Molecular has adopted flow chemistry to improve operations across its business, including pharmaceuticals, electronics and a range of industrial chemicals.

Working with Boron Molecular on several projects, we helped to develop some impressive new processes, including one that will save the masterpieces of the world. Together we used flow chemistry to create a new resin that is used to coat and protect paintings from the ravages of time.

The team is now working with the National Gallery of Victoria to refine the new resin that, once ready, will be available to conservators across the world. The resin is reversible, does not yellow as it ages and is completely clear. It can safely be used on priceless masterpieces to preserve them for future generations.

We’re continuing to develop our flow chemistry capability and capacity through the commissioning of FloWorks, supported by funding from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF). FloWorks is a lab in Melbourne that will make it easier for chemical manufacturers to use flow chemistry for their chemical manufacturing needs. We will also continue to explore new horizons that could benefit from the exacting control that flow chemistry brings to chemical manufacturing.

Reducing waste in copper production

An impression of ore going through the analyser sensors.

The world’s high-grade mineral ore deposits are depleting and new mineral ores are increasingly lower in quality. Compared to 20 years ago, a pound of copper produced today generates more than 60 per cent more tailings waste and uses nearly the same in extra electricity, fuel and water. This trend will continue into the future unless we innovate.

New technologies to selectively mine and sort ore, which identify high-value ore and separate it from waste in real time, can make these low-grade ore deposits more economically and environmentally viable to mine.

In response, we developed the world’s most advanced sensor system for large-scale ore sorting to rapidly determine ore quality (grade) in order to reject large volumes of waste rock before it enters the plant for processing. We could solve the challenge of an industry in decline by creating a new future industry.

The advanced sensor system applies magnetic resonance technology, which detects signatures from many minerals and is particularly effective for copper, iron, arsenic and gold-bearing ores, among others.

As ore on a conveyor passes through the analyser at a rate of up to 5,000 tonnes per hour, it illuminates batches of ore with short pulses of radio waves. By penetrating through ores – much like medical magnetic resonance imaging ‘sees into’ human bodies – the analyser rapidly and accurately detects ore grade.

In July, in partnership with RFC Ambrian and Advisian Digital, we launched a new company called NextOre to take the analyser to the international mining market.

In its first year, NextOre targeted copper miners with a focus on engaging local and international markets. The company estimates that 35 per cent of global copper mines are suitable for the application of magnetic resonance technology – where the analyser could be applied to increase productivity, extend mine life and reduce the environmental footprint.

The benefits for producers vary depending on the orebody being mined but have the potential to more than double the average ore quality. This could represent as much as a 20 per cent reduction in processing costs in some copper mines.

Since NextOre was launched, three magnetic resonance analysers have been sent to mine sites where site-specific trials are being undertaken. This includes two top-tier producers. Another two to three analysers are to be delivered before the end of the year.

Early results from a NextOre trial at a mine site in Latin America have demonstrated the analyser is capable of accurately measuring ore grade in two seconds. This allows rapid separation of low- and high-grade ore with a high degree of confidence.

Meanwhile, in Australia, we are trialling a magnetic resonance analyser at Newcrest. Mine site trials at Cadia East mine are proving successful in regard to accurate monitoring of ore grades at feed rates up to 4,800 tonnes per hour. This is an important result, validating the potential for improved processing options in emerging mine sites, and is relevant for many large-scale applications worldwide.

NextOre is another recent commercialisation success story for CSIRO and RFC Ambrian, which together established Chrysos Corporation in late 2016 to market an X-ray-based gold analysis solution.

NextOre has been acknowledged by industry leaders, achieving first place in the METS to Miners and Engineers’ Pitch Battle award at the International Mining and Resources Conference 2018.

Transformative science for valuable southern bluefin tuna fishery

bluefin tuna swimming through the oceanWe’re providing robust management advice to help rebuild the southern bluefin tuna fishery to sustainable levels, and innovative monitoring programs using genetics and statistics to estimate the abundance of juvenile and adult SBT.

Australia’s large and valuable southern bluefin tuna (SBT) fishery, operating predominantly out of Port Lincoln in South Australia, is part of the internationally managed fishery estimated to be worth more than $800 million. Australia is a founding member of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and its national allocation is 35 per cent of the global catch level set by the CCSBT.

Historical overfishing of SBT saw the stock decline to around three per cent of the unfished level and led the species to be listed as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and ‘conservation dependent’ under Australian environment legislation. Furthermore, historical under-reporting of longline catches meant that key data for assessing the stock status and management are unreliable.

To address the challenge of maintaining a resilient and valuable environment, we delivered excellence in science-based management advice for setting global catch limits and two new methods to accurately monitor challenging species, such as the highly migratory SBT.

CSIRO and collaborators developed the world’s first scientifically tested management procedure for tuna to set global catch limits that reduce the risk of further declines and associated extinction risk for this iconic stock. This has enabled Australia’s nationally significant fishery to continue operation while rebuilding the stock from dangerously low levels. The economic benefits from the management procedure include greater certainty, transparency and stability for stakeholders, an 85 per cent increase in catch valued at $80 million for the Australian fishery, and many hundreds of millions in direct revenue for the global fishery.

Two new techniques for monitoring abundance of juvenile and adult SBT have also been developed. A gene-tagging program monitors the numbers of juvenile SBT by collecting a DNA ‘fingerprint’ from biopsies of individual fish, which acts as an invisible, lifelong ‘tag’. Abundance is estimated from matching the DNA fingerprint from fish that are ’tagged and released with fish sampled 18 months later. The program, funded by the CCSBT, Australian Government and European Union, provides reliable information on juvenile SBT abundance, and it does not rely on data from commercial fishers detecting and returning traditional plastic tags. These juvenile abundance estimates will be included in new management procedures for setting the global catches of SBT in the future.

Close-kin Mark Recapture (CKMR), the second new technique, is used to monitor the abundance of adult fish and other demographic parameters, such as survival, without relying on fishery catch and effort data. Like gene-tagging, it uses DNA as a natural tag to match closely related kin (parent-offspring and sibling pairs) from tissue samples of adults and juveniles. The frequency of kin matches is combined with knowledge of the biology and elegant maths to provide an accurate estimate of the number of adults in the SBT population.

These award-winning4 research achievements are world firsts and have played a critical role in delivering scientific excellence and robust advice to support the SBT industry and Australian community. The future impacts are wide-reaching, as the technologies are transferrable to other fish, wildlife species and conservation management globally.

Powering the quest for self-driving cars

Production of the Baraja engine in the CSIRO laboratories. Baraja, a start-up based at our Lindfield Collaboration Hub, develops light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems for autonomous vehicles, and demonstrates how our CSIRO Innovation Fund is helping to amplify our role as Australia’s innovation catalyst.

Baraja has used mature telecommunications to revolutionise how driverless cars map the environment around them through the Baraja Spectrum-Scan™ LiDAR.

Spectrum-Scan™ LiDAR connects a wavelength-tuneable laser (engine) to prism-like optics (sensorheads) in a configurable suite. The engine, housing all the delicate optics, is stored within the vehicle, giving it protection and robustness from temperature, shock and vibration. This produces a highly accurate picture of the distance and reflectivity of surrounding objects – the laser can be automatically tuned to change resolution and focal points as required.

The sensorheads, mounted on top of the vehicle, provide up to 360-degree visibility. These are manufactured with off-the-shelf components, due to the LiDAR being built using mature components sourced from the telecommunications and automotive industry supply chains. This results in an already industrialised and scalable system at lower cost.

Baraja’s LiDAR is versatile and able to adapt to changing environments. Baraja has been delivering prototypes of its system to autonomous car manufacturers for the last 12 months and has the opportunity to become the standard for the entire industry.

In January, Baraja announced its successful US $32 million Series A funding round, led by Sequoia China and our CSIRO Innovation Fund, and including repeat investment from Blackbird Ventures. With a strong research and development focus, Baraja will use the funds to invest in prototypes, tools and equipment, and hire staff members. Baraja arrived at our Lindfield site in 2015 with only two staff members. It now employs more than 95 staff members, expected to grow in number to 200 at the end of 2019. The company has offices in China and the United States, and is looking at the European market.

Baraja is a great example of how incubation, investment and collaboration can unlock the potential of a deep technology start-up with a global vision.


david burt standing next to nancy schellhornON Executive Manager, David Burt and Dr Nancy Schellhorn.RapidAIM was founded by CSIRO researchers, Dr Nancy Schellhorn, Darren Moore and Laura Jones.

Its technology offers pest detection and monitoring through a series of smart sensor networks, sending data to farmers in real time on the presence of fruit flies on crops. Fruit flies cost Australia more than $300 million every year – the RapidAIM solution will have an enormous impact on agricultural markets here and overseas.

In November, Dr Schellhorn attended an event at Parliament House to unveil her new start-up, announcing an injection of $1.25 million funding from the CSIRO Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures.

With the help of CSIRO and ON mentors, the team has experimented in Silicon Valley, held successful field trials, gained real customers with product sales, and opened new premises in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

RapidAIM aims to remain an Australian-made and operated company as the team works to expand their product and explore new markets. Dr Schellhorn, who has worked for CSIRO for 14 years, said her involvement in ON helped shift her mindset.

"We entered the ON program two years ago thinking that we might have an interesting piece of technology,” Dr Schellhorn said. “By the time we exited the program 13 weeks later we had a pathway to market."


the outside of the food and innovation centre building at werribeeThe CSIRO Food and Innovation Centre, Werribee, where the faba bean project work was undertaken.Kick-Start is one of three programs offered through SME Connect. It helps Australian start-ups and SMEs access dollar-matched funding for research, development, or testing activities with CSIRO. This program forms part of our strategic commitment to deepen our direct support for Australian technology start-ups and SMEs in areas of national growth priorities.

In 2017–18, Australian Plant Proteins Pty Ltd approached us for help to improve its manufacturing process that produces a plant-based protein powder using faba beans. As a start-up, the company required financial support and expertise to help develop its product from its testing phase to commercial production.

Working with us over several trials the company was able to create a more advanced protein extraction method, which has increased the protein level in the final faba bean powder to 80 per cent. Under our guidance, the company was also able to make its manufacturing process more efficient, reducing the time and resources needed to produce the protein powder.

The success of this research phase has seen Australian Plant Proteins Pty Ltd invest in a $20 million facility, which will be built in Horsham, Victoria. The facility, which is expected to be operational in the first half of 2020, will create 20 jobs and produce 2,500 tonnes of protein powder each year.

A further $15 million investment is planned for this facility, doubling its annual production to 5,000 tonnes by early 2021. This will create a further 15 jobs to support the increased production.

Significant demand for plant-based protein powders already exists in overseas markets. As a product that is virtually odourless, colourless and neutral in taste, it can be used across a range of food categories, including snack food, pasta and breakfast cereals, and as a meal replacement. As a result, the protein powder produced at this facility has the potential to create new opportunities for the Australian agricultural industry.

Space, it's getting bigger

the parkes radio telescope at nightOur Parkes radio telescope was called on by NASA to support the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex to track Voyager 2 as it entered interstellar space.A national spotlight was shone on the space sector this year with the creation of the Australian Space Agency, which has been tasked with growing the local industry three-fold by 2030. We are a key partner to the new agency and this year we built on our 75 years in the sector with several new initiatives.

In September, we launched our Space Industry Roadmap that sets out three main pathways for unlocking future growth across Australian industry in space-derived services, space object tracking and space exploration and use. Our roadmap informed the Australian Space Agency’s strategic direction and its priority areas highlighted in the Civil Space Decadal Plan 2018–28.

In November, we announced a $16 million investment into breakthrough innovation via a new Space Technology Future Science Platform. This will focus on building world-leading capability and driving research within CSIRO to support the strategic priorities identified by the Australian Space Agency and the opportunity areas detailed in our Space Industry Roadmap.

Our industry engagement in the sector continued to deepen. We hosted two ‘Space 2.0’ workshops that connected SMEs and start-ups, the research sector, end-users and governments, and we celebrated our 30-year partnership with Boeing by announcing 20 new projects – including four space-related projects – demonstrating our shared commitment to solving the greatest challenges.

Our collaboration with the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) continued through our role managing the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex on its behalf, tracking and communicating with more than 30 missions exploring the solar system. Our work in this area was further enhanced by a new contract to provide operational support from June 2019 for the European Space Agency’s ground station near New Norcia in Western Australia.

We extended our civilian satellite capability by securing access to one of the world’s most sophisticated high-performance satellites – NovaSAR-1 – which we’ll operate as a national facility, giving Australian scientists direct control of environmental data collection in our region. Launched from India in September, the satellite is undergoing commissioning and is expected to be operational in the second half of 2019.

Furthering our work in observing Earth from above is a new pilot CubeSat project known as CSIROSat-1. Supported by a grant from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, and built in collaboration with Adelaide-based SME Inovor Technologies, this miniature satellite is expected to be launched into low Earth orbit from the International Space Station by mid-2020.


  1. http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-commodities/dec-2018/agriculture-overview
  2. http://www.agriculture.gov.au/about/commitment/portfolio-facts/grains
  3. https://grdc.com.au/resources-and-publications/groundcover/ground-cover-supplements/gcs103/benchmarking-the-key-to-improving-productivity-and-wue
  4. The CSIRO SBT team received the 2018 CSIRO Medal for Impact from Science and the 2018 Sir Ian McLennan Achievement for Industry Award.