Release date: February 19, 2021
ONE BASIN CRC
Riverland wine grape growers could be taking advantage of new technologies that reduce irrigation water use by up to 30 per cent within the next decade if the proposed ONE Basin Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) gets the green light.
A bid to establish the ONE Basin CRC is being pitched to the Federal Government next week. The 10-year research initiative aims to offer an industry-led and basin-wide approach to the science needed to sustainably manage the Murray-Darling Basin’s resources.
The bid has the support of a coalition of industry and community groups, universities, government bodies and businesses that have committed more than $120 million to its operation. At last count there were 80 bid partners, including the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Hort Innovation, South Australian Research and Development Institute, SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), the Department for Environment and Water, Wine Australia, Riverland Wine and YES Energy.
Riverland Wine chair Chris Byrne has welcomed the ONE Basin proposal, including plans to locate one of the CRC’s five research hubs in the region, which is a powerhouse of Australia’s wine industry.
The Riverland produced more than 460,000 tonnes of wine grapes from 21,000 ha of irrigated vines last year, ahead of the Murray Valley (350,000 tonnes) and Riverina (297,000 tonnes). Together, the three inland regions, which draw irrigation water from the Murray-Darling, accounted for about 74 per cent of the nation’s wine grapes.
“The reason we are so interested in the CRC is largely the need to be prepared for climate change,” Mr Byrne says. Improving water use efficiency capabilities both on-farm and off-farm has been the subject of discussion for 20 years, but recent seasons have made the need for action increasingly urgent.
Data from PIRSA indicates Riverland growers require about 8.7 megalitres of water per hectare for maximum wine grape production. Mr Byrne says growers believe this could be reduced by almost a third, down to six megalitres per hectare. Across the Riverland’s 21,000 ha of wine grapes that’s a potential saving of 42 gigalitres a year.
To achieve this, research is needed into the relationships between soil, plants, water, light and air, as well as the development of system controls using artificial intelligence and machine learning through internet-enabled devices networked throughout vineyards. This work is part of the proposed ONE Basin CRC’s research program.
“Collectively, if we can collaborate with the scientific community to apply research and development dollars in areas that generate the most direct benefit, the CRC will have great appeal and success,” Mr Byrne says.
Other research to benefit the Riverland could include identifying grape cultivars that will be less susceptible to climate change. This will appeal to both emerging markets and younger consumers who are increasingly interested in sustainability and environmental credentials, Mr Byrne says.
The Lower Basin Regional Hub would be located at the Loxton Research Centre. Staff would work with the Mallee Regional Hub at Mildura, in Victoria, on common cross-border issues and solutions, especially those related to viticulture, almonds and citrus.
ONE Basin CRC interim chief executive officer Mike Stewardson will make a personal presentation to the CRC Advisory Committee on February 25 during the final stage of the current CRC selection process. Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Thomas is expected to announce the successful CRC bids in March, with funding to begin in October.
For more details or interviews, please contact:
• Chris Byrne: Chair, Riverland Wine, 0419 555 001 email@example.com
• Kym Walton (PIRSA): ONE Basin CRC - Lower Basin Regional Hub Lead: 0488 020 715 firstname.lastname@example.org
• Professor Mike Stewardson (University of Melbourne): ONE Basin CRC - interim Chief Executive Officer: 0437 751 393, email@example.com
What is the ONE Basin CRC?
The proposed ONE Basin CRC will develop policy, technical and financial solutions to support and reduce exposure to climate, water and environmental challenges in the Murray-Darling Basin.
It proposes five regional hubs located across the Basin at Loxton (SA), Mildura (Vic), Dookie (Vic), Griffith (NSW) and Goondiwindi (Qld). The hubs will be focal points for place-based research and development, followed by evaluation, adaptation, and education and training.
Three programs will tackle agriculture’s water challenges to help agribusinesses factor water and climate risks into decisions and increase confidence in agricultural investment.
The ONE Basin CRC has six core objectives:
1. Deliver the capacity for communities, government and industries to respond to emerging climate, water and related changes in business and planning decisions.
2. Develop engineering and digital water infrastructure solutions to the Basin’s management challenges.
3. Enable farm enterprises and rural communities to adapt to global trends and drivers.
4. Build mutually respectful and valued relationships among First Nations peoples and Basin stakeholders to tackle emerging Basin management opportunities and risks.
5. Train future leaders across businesses, communities and governments.
6. Establish a strong regionally based innovation system supporting an entrepreneurial outlook by regional communities and businesses.
More information: www.onebasin.com.au