Wimmera wheat breeding centre opens its doors

By: Anna Game-Lopata

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Agricultural research organisation Bayer CropScience this week opened a state-of-the-art Wheat and Oilseeds Breeding Centre in Horsham, Victoria.

Wimmera wheat breeding centre opens its doors
Bayer CropScience's Wheat and Oilseed Breeding Centre in Wimmera aim to increase the yield of Australian wheat crops and oilseeds.

Bayer CropScience has invested $14 million in a new Wheat and Oilseeds Breeding Centre in Victoria’s Wimmera region.

The first of its kind in this country, the new Wheat and Oilseed Breeding Centre will focus on developing wheat and oilseed varieties with higher yields and productivity improvements tailored to Australian conditions.

The breeding station will employ up to 20 staff and hopes to address the skills shortage in Australian agriculture by enabling young people with both the technology and the opportunity to learn from Bayer scientists.

Bayer aims to work closely with local training programs at the local agriculture education institution Longerenong College where the new facility is located.

Enrolments at Longerenong College this year are at the highest in over a decade with 70 students undertaking full-time study – more than half of those being female – while total enrolments have almost doubled since 2007. 

The Victorian Government has invested $1.24 million to upgrade roads and improve access to the facility.

Bayer CropScience Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Dr Jacqueline Applegate says the breeding centre has injected inspiration and capital into the Wimmera region.

"Together we are developing new technologies so farmers can become even more efficient and more sustainable, and thus contribute to feeding this hungry planet."

Horsham Rural City Council Mayor Cr David Grimble adds Bayer was attracted to the Longerenong site because it offers the security of an assured water supply. 

 "Having Bayer established here in the Horsham district is of significant importance for the future advancement of crop production locally, nationally and globally,’’ Grimble says.

"The breeding centre will also further the economic development of the Wimmera region and will enhance opportunities for local industries, education and the community.’’

Specialising in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech material Bayer CropScience is a global, research-based enterprise with annual sales of EUR 8,383 million.

In Australia, the Melbourne-based head office of Bayer CropScience oversees one of just a few crop protection businesses still manufacturing products in their own local plants.

In 2012 Bayer announced a partnership with CSIRO and to increase the yield of Australian wheat crops – a project in which the new Bayer Wheat and Oilseeds Breeding Centre will play a significant role.

It is expected the Horsham centre will yield results for Australian farmers within a decade.  

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