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Appendix 1: Australian Government Priorities

CRDC’s investments in RD&E during 2019–20 supported the achievement of the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities and Rural RD&E Priorities, as outlined below.

Advanced technology

To enhance innovation of products, processes and practices across the food and fibre supply chains through technologies such as robotics, digitisation, big data, genetics and precision agriculture.

· Food

· Soil and Water

· Advanced Manufacturing

· Building on the CRDC-led, cross-sectoral Australian Agriculture: Growing a Digital Future project, an industry steering committee has been established and facilitated by CRDC that will oversee the development of a digital strategy for the cotton industry.

· Three of the projects now undergoing commercialisation activities are focused on providing digital technologies to farmers, improving management of spray drift, irrigation and insect management.

· A CRDC Grassroots Grant to demonstrate on-farm internet of things (IoT) and LoRaWAN technology was supported.

· CRDC sponsored the AgFrontier Regional Agtech Incubator, which provides start-ups the opportunity to work and grow in a dedicated program designed specifically for rural businesses and individuals in regional QLD and northern NSW who have practical understanding of agriculture. Ten agricultural innovators were selected from more than 30 applications received from across northern NSW and regional QLD, including SwarmFarm Robotics.

Biosecurity

To improve understanding and evidence of pest and disease pathways to help direct biosecurity resources to their best uses, minimising biosecurity threats and improving market access for primary producers.

· Food

· CRDC, along with other plant-based RDCs, have continued their partnership with Plant Health Australia, and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI). PBRI coordinates funding for biosecurity research, development and extension and attracts further co-investment. It focuses on biosecurity threats to plant-based industries and developing better preparedness, diagnostics, surveillance and management capabilities in addition to improving industry resilience. PBRI has coordinated approximately $50 million cash and in-kind into biosecurity research, development and extension (RD&E) in the last three years (Phase I). Phase 1 also delivered the two-day PBRI Symposium 2019 and International Year of Plant Health 2020 events. This coordinated approach helps ensure that this effort is aligned to broader national goals and delivered with increased efficiency, avoiding duplication of effort. In addition to identifying co-investments, the initiative is also improving RDC collaboration, for example, coordination of an across-industry response to the fall armyworm incursion, including application for chemical use permits, testing for insecticide resistance and combined communications to primary producers.

· CRDC is also collaborating with Hort Innovation on applying a novel technology, BioClay, to support management of exotic and endemic pests.

· Development in Northern Australia presents new risks in terms of biosecurity, and CRDC is supporting crop protection research in Northern Australia as well as virus and vector surveillance linked to Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy activities.

· In collaboration with Plant Health Australia, CRDC conducted a successful biosecurity simulation, Exercise Blueprint. It examined the response by the industry to a detection of cotton blue disease, a high-priority pest of the cotton industry. Exercise Blueprint brought together key stakeholders from the cotton industry to examine a scenario of a fictional detection of cotton blue disease in Australia. The exercise highlighted that the existing level of preparedness in the cotton industry is overall very high, with an opportunity to build upon the existing level in a few areas.

Soil, water, and managing natural resources

To manage soil health, improve water-use efficiency and certainty of supply, sustainably develop new production areas, and improve resilience to climate events and impacts.

· Food

· Soil and Water

· Environmental Change

· Health

· CRDC continues to invest in projects seeking to improve the environmental footprint of Australian cotton, with a particular focus on soil health, nitrogen use and water efficiency. The water productivity of Australian cotton production continues to improve, with a long-term trend of 2.5 per cent per annum increase in water-use efficiency being maintained.

· CRDC continues to invest in the cross-sectoral Managing Climate Variability program, and provides fortnightly climate information to growers to help them manage climate risk. In addition, ongoing research investigates the potential management strategies for coping with higher temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.

· A collaborative project co-funded by the CRC for Northern Australia, GRDC and CRDC aims to support development of a viable broadacre cropping system in the NT. The project includes validating and calibrating modelling tools to understand short- and long-term risk profiles and collating broadacre cropping data, natural resource information and an understanding of market opportunities to provide strategic information to de-risk industry development.

· In collaboration with Cotton Australia, CRDC published the Australian Cotton Sustainability Report 2019.

Adoption of R&D

Focusing on flexible delivery of extension services that meet primary producers’ needs, and recognising the growing role of private service delivery

· Food

· Soil and Water

· Energy

· Resources

· Advanced Manufacturing

· Environmental Change

· Health

· CottonInfo organised or contributed to 78 events involving 1,188 participants. Of these, 25 activities were organised by CottonInfo and 53 were organised in partnership with other organisations.

· The CottonInfo team provided support for regional sampling and data collection for CRDC research projects that were affected by travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

· The CottonInfo team continued to support private industry activities, including Cotton Seed Distributor’s Crop Management Tours, the Crop Consultants Australia seminars and the Bayer Grower of the Year Field Day.

· Work has commenced to ensure that myBMP is relevant to northern (tropical) cotton production, given the potential expansion of the industry.

Science and Research Priorities per CRDC RD&E program 2019–20 ($’000)

Science and Research Priorities

Food

Soil and Water

Transport

Cybersecurity

Energy

Resources

Advanced Manufacturing

Environmental Change

Health

Total

Goal 1

$6,738

$5,560

$0

$0

$0

$4

$0

$213

$0

$12,515

Goal 2

$476

$284

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$809

$0

$1,569

Goal 3

$654

$90

$0

$0

$0

$0

$120

$2

$20

$886

Enabling Strategy 1

$921

$162

$0

$0

$115

$0

$0

$125

$6

$1,328

Enabling Strategy 2

$366

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$366

TOTAL*

$9,156

$6,096

$0

$0

$115

$4

$120

$1,149

$26

$16,666

* Excludes budgeted employee and supplier expenditure, and corporate research activities that support R&D planning and adoption. Some funding totals have been rounded up or down to the closest whole number.

Rural RD&E Priorities per CRDC RD&E Program 2019–20 ($’000)

Rural RD&E Priorities

Advanced Technology

Biosecurity

Soil, Water, and Managing Natural Resources

Adoption of R&D

Total

Goal 1

$1,062

$3,351

$7,358

$744

$12,515

Goal 2

$290

$0

$1,202

$78

$1,569

Goal 3

$110

$5

$196

$575

$886

Enabling Strategy 1

$312

$212

$20

$784

$1,328

Enabling Strategy 2

$0

$26

$26

$315

$366

TOTAL*

$1,774

$3,594

$8,802

$2,495

$16,666

* Excludes budgeted employee and supplier expenditure, and corporate research activities that support R&D planning and adoption. Some funding totals have been rounded up or down to the closest whole number.