Monthly Archives: May 2011

Peter Waite Celebrations

Peter Waite Day

To commemorate Peter Waite’s birth date (May 9, 1834), the WRI, together with the UoA School of Agriculture, Food & Wine honoured the day by sponsoring drinks and canapés for all Waite campus staff and UoA postgraduates on Friday afternoon 6 May 2011. The inaugural event was held in perfect autumn weather outside Lirra Lirra cafe from 3:00pm to 4:30pm and included a competitive Bocce tournament with 12 teams vying for the prestigious trophy, the Peter Waite Bocce Cup!

Professor Leigh gave a short speech and he said the Peter Waite Day event was a great opportunity for all the Waite collocated partners to get together and socialise.

At the conclusion of the event, Acting Head of School, Professor Eileen Scott presented the winners of the Peter Waite cup, “The Salties”. It’s worth also pointing out many of the teams had some fun names such as the SARDInes and the Central Wino’s – next year we hope to see even more Bocce teams enter with clever names representing their departments or area of research. Perhaps in 2012 we’ll even add an additional prize for the team with the best name!?

The WRI and AFW School would like to thank everyone who helped organise the Bocce games and the people who gave their support and attended ‘Peter Waite Day’ 2011.

The 2nd A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture – Podcast

The 2nd A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture

Brian LoveysUnderstanding how grapevines control their water use.

Listen to Dr Brian Loveys’ talk which was given at the 2nd A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture on the 9th May, 2011.

Based in Adelaide, Dr Loveys’ research has focused on describing the role played by plant hormones in the control of the growth and development of woody perennial horticultural crops. He is particularly interested in the involvement of the plant hormone abscisic acid in regulating grapevine water use. Dr Loveys aims to provide the Australian winegrape industry with management tools to improve the efficiency of water use.

Dr Loveys studied plant science at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and joined CSIRO in 1972 after a period of postdoctoral study in the United States of America. Until his retirement from CSIRO in 2010 he was a Chief Research Scientist and is currently continuing his studies as an Honorary Research Fellow.

History

The A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture is named in honour of the former Roseworthy Lecturer who is regarded as the father of Australian oenology (wine-making) education. This Lecture recognises individuals that have had an impact on the wine industry and are world leaders in the field of oenology. Alan Robb Hickinbotham (1898-1959) joined the staff at Roseworthy College in 1929 as a Lecturer in Physical and Chemical Sciences. In 1936, he established the nation’s first wine-making course which evolved into the University of Adelaide’s world-renowned Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology which is now run at the Waite Campus. Alan R. Hickinbotham remained at Roseworthy College until 1948. His research and writing on wine-making under Australian conditions laid the foundation for a technically advanced Australian wine industry. The Hickinbotham family continued their father’s passion for wine through their ongoing interests in viticulture and wine production. The National Wine Centre has recognised the Hickinbotham family by naming its major function hall after the family while the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory was established at the University’s Waite Campus in 1998 with the family’s support.

Peter Waite: Action and Optimism for Australian Agriculture

Peter Waite - circa 1908

Peter Waite - circa 1908

Imagine it’s 1865. Six years ago, when you were 25, you followed your older brothers to South Australia from Scotland. Your eldest brother has since died and now you are responsible for managing over 2,000 square kilometres of property running 40,000 head of sheep at Paratoo in the semi-arid north of South Australia. There is no railway anywhere nearby and horses and bullock teams are the only means of transportation to and from the town of Adelaide 260 km away. A year ago your Scottish fiancée, now wife, came to join you, bringing her heavy British clothing and a harmonium. And there’s a drought: one of the worst in the colony’s history. After losing 8,000 sheep, even more lambs and 50 bullocks, and with your wife begging you to give up and take her back to Scotland, you decide to send 12,000 sheep south to better grazing country near Penola over 600km away in South Australia’s south-east. It would take 12 months, but ultimately your action and optimism would save your enterprise when the drought broke a year later and an even larger flock returned.

Peter Waite was a remarkable man. His tenacity and resourcefulness are seen in his ability to not only survive, but thrive in the harsh conditions faced by early Australian pastoralists. He made many improvements to the properties he managed to reduce the impact of climate variability such as fencing, providing permanent water sources and spelling the land. His ability to implement new ideas with drive and intelligence meant that his career and social standing progressed rapidly. By 1877, when his family took possession of ‘Urrbrae’ in Adelaide he was a partner in Thomas Elder’s Beltana Pastoral Company and could afford to return to Scotland to purchase high-quality furnishings for his new home. Amongst the beautiful furniture was an oak sideboard inscribed with Waite’s motto Fac et Spera or ‘Action and Optimism’. His business interests continued to thrive and both his family and his social position grew. He was a keen supporter of sports, in particular hunting. Urrbrae appeared regularly on the social calendar for hunt breakfasts, dinners and balls. Waite also had keen interest in art and was a patron of Sir Arthur Streeton, acquiring 31 of his works. He was an ‘early adopter’ of technology: electricity, refrigeration and automobiles. By 1909, at 75 years of age, Peter Waite was not only the Chairman of Elder Smith & Co Ltd. but Managing Director of three pastoral companies, a director of three commercial companies including British Broken Hill Mining Co. and a member of the Council of the Pastoralists’ Association of South Australia and West Darling.

In 1913, Peter and Matilda Waite’s son David died tragically and none of their remaining children were interested in remaining at Urrbrae after their parents’ deaths. Later that year, Peter Waite wrote to the Chancellor of the University of Adelaide and the Premier of South Australia expressing his wish to present, on his and Matilda’s deaths, Urrbrae House and property of 54 hectares to the University. The eastern half of the land was for research and training in agricultural and related studies, and the western half for a public park under the University’s control (now the Waite Arboretum). The 45 hectares adjoining Urrbrae was to be presented to the Government for the purpose of establishing an agricultural high school (now Urrbrae Agricultural High School). Waite’s surviving children were adequately provided for and actively supported their father’s decision, making several contributions of their own to the University after their father’s death. Interestingly, in 1917, Peter Waite was offered a knighthood but refused it on the basis of his age, then 83. Before his death at 88 in 1922, and Matilda’s later the same year, Waite purchased more property adjacent to Urrbrae (Claremont and Netherby) and transferred ownership of these to the University. He also set aside shares in Elder Smith and Co. Ltd for the purpose of devoting the income to the University for the advancement of agricultural education. It was one of the largest public benefactions ever made by a South Australian colonist and today would be equivalent to several million dollars.

Waite’s legacy is more than just land and money. The spirit of action and optimism continued from the establishment of the original Waite Agricultural Research Institute in 1924, through research-driven innovations in soil science, plant breeding and wine research, and through collocation of the University of Adelaide with research organisations such as CSIRO, the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and SARDI. Now “The Waite” (as it is known) has over 1,000 researchers across the collocated organisations and hosts major national research centres and facilities such as the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, the Plant Accelerator (part of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls. There is a rich network of research collaborations between all of the Waite partners, for example The Wine Innovation Cluster involves four partners and undertakes the majority of Australia’s wine-related research.

Agriculture, both in Australia and globally, faces the huge challenge of feeding a growing population sustainably and resourcing the research needed to support innovation and discovery is increasingly difficult. In Peter Waite’s own words, written in 1913: “We have now reached a point when it behoves us to call science to our aid to a greater extent than hitherto has been done, otherwise we cannot hope to keep in the forefront.” Peter Waite’s generous gift, made nearly 100 years ago, ensures that the Waite name will continue to deliver action and optimism for Australian agriculture into the future.

Written by Heather Bray

For more information on Peter Waite go to http://www.waite.adelaide.edu.au/urrbraehouse/pwaite/

The 2nd A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture

Understanding how grapevines control their water use.

Date/Time: Monday 9th May, 4pm
Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
Speaker: Professor Brian Loveys, CSIRO Plant Industry & University of Adelaide

Short Speaker Biography

Based in Adelaide, Dr Loveys’ research has focused on describing the role played by plant hormones in the control of the growth and development of woody perennial horticultural crops. He is particularly interested in the involvement of the plant hormone abscisic acid in regulating grapevine water use. Dr Loveys aims to provide the Australian winegrape industry with management tools to improve the efficiency of water use.

Dr Loveys studied plant science at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and joined CSIRO in 1972 after a period of postdoctoral study in the United States of America. Until his retirement from CSIRO in 2010 he was a Chief Research Scientist and is currently continuing his studies as an Honorary Research Fellow.

History

The A.R. Hickinbotham Lecture is named in honour of the former Roseworthy Lecturer who is regarded as the father of Australian oenology (wine-making) education. This Lecture recognises individuals that have had an impact on the wine industry and are world leaders in the field of oenology. Alan Robb Hickinbotham (1898-1959) joined the staff at Roseworthy College in 1929 as a Lecturer in Physical and Chemical Sciences. In 1936, he established the nation’s first wine-making course which evolved into the University of Adelaide’s world-renowned Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology which is now run at the Waite Campus. Alan R. Hickinbotham remained at Roseworthy College until 1948. His research and writing on wine-making under Australian conditions laid the foundation for a technically advanced Australian wine industry. The Hickinbotham family continued their father’s passion for wine through their ongoing interests in viticulture and wine production. The National Wine Centre has recognised the Hickinbotham family by naming its major function hall after the family while the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory was established at the University’s Waite Campus in 1998 with the family’s support.

If you would like to make an appointment with Dr Loveys or would like more information, please contact Matthew Gilliham.

Primary Industries Standing Committee National RD&E Framework

Grains Implementation Committee 2011

Professor Roger Leigh is a member of the National Grains RD&E Framework Implementation Committee as a representative of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture.

The national Primary Industries Standing Committee* (PISC) has initiated an agenda to rationalise the national research, development and extension (RD&E) framework servicing agriculture.  The framework spans 14 primary industry sectors and 7 cross-industry sectors.  The 14 industry sectors are: beef, cotton, dairy, fishing and aquaculture, forests, grains, horticulture, pork, poultry, sheep-meat, sugar, wine, wool and new and emerging industries.  The 7 cross-sector strategies are: animal biosecurity, animal welfare, biofuels and bioenergy, climate change and variability, food and nutrition, plant biosecurity and water use in agriculture. These reviews are overseen by the PISC R&D Subcommittee which has a member from the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture on it.

The PISC National RD&E framework seeks to consolidate investment in RD&E to achieve:

  1. Agreed strategic directions and priorities for national and sector level primary industries RD&E in Australia that enhance the productivity and sustainability of Australia’s primary industries;
  2. Research capability that will more comprehensively and holistically cover the present and future strategic needs of stakeholders nationally;
  3. Reduced fragmentation of research across the nation so that public research capability will become more integrated, interdependent and specialised, and have larger critical mass;
  4. Improved efficiency and effectiveness of RD&E will be improved and as a consequence returns on investment will improve;
  5. Focussed RD&E investment that will improve the capability of the national system in priority areas and ensure effective and efficient use of resources, including infrastructure;
  6. Enhanced collaboration to retain and build capability in fields strategically important to different jurisdictions and industry sectors;
  7. An intergrated national research capability that  will be a component of a wider innovation agenda, supporting development and extension; and
  8. Research undertaken in one location will be developed and extended nationally for primary industries.

(Source:  National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Network Statement of Intent)

The PISC RD&E framework is focussing on achieving National R, Regional D and Local E. To achieve this each of the jurisdictions, CSIRO, and the Universities have been asked identify whether their activities will be Major, Support or Link in various designated research activities in each of the sectoral reviews:

Major:  Will maintain a lead role in providing R&D capability towards national outcomes;

Support:  Will contribute to R&D in partnership but the major role will be taken by another jurisdiction or institution;

 Link:  Will not undertake R&D but will access information and resources from other jurisdictions (E only).

The application of the M,S&L categorisation will result in designated major lead (M) and support (S) jurisdictions and institutions undertaking RD&E with a national and sector perspective; as well as other jurisdictions withdrawing from some RD&E activities and sourcing required RD&E outcomes from M&S designated institutions.

(* The Primary Industries Standing Committee comprises the heads of the national and state government departments associated with primary industries).