Tag Archives: Professor

WRI hosts the inaugural Debate @ the Waite, 25 August 2011

Last week over 130 people attended the Waite Research Institute’s inaugural Debate @ the Waite, on the motion “Increasing agricultural production is the only sure way to feed 9 billion people by 2050”.

The event, held at Lirra Lirra Cafe at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide was moderated by Dr Paul Willis, Director of the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus). The debaters on the evening were:

Team for the affirmative:

  • Prof Rick Roush, Dean, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Andrew Jacobs, Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, University of Adelaide
  • Prof Roger Leigh, Director, Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide

Team for the negative:

  • John Webster, Chief Executive, Foodbank Australia Ltd.
  • Dr Wendy Umberger, Senior Lecturer, Agricultural Economics, University of Adelaide
  • Andrew Stoler, Executive Director, Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide

On arrival the audience was invited to vote on whether they were for or against the motion. Speakers for each of the two teams had 5 minutes to present their team’s case, followed by questions and comments from the audience. Each team member then had two minutes to provide a final point before the audience was invited to vote again.

The affirmative team argued that increasing food production, in particular in less developed countries expecting the highest rates of population growth, is the only way to feed 9 billion people by 2050. They gave examples of how existing knowledge could be used to increase on-farm productivity. They argued that redistribution of food through trade, or targeting wastage would not increase food availability in the hunger hot spots.

The negative team argued although hunger is real, food scarcity is not. We produce enough calories to feed the population currently, but it is international trade policies and an inefficient food system (in particular post-harvest) that cause hunger. They also argued that wastage is a big problem and that overcoming this will further contribute to alleviating food shortages. They argued that without addressing these issues, increasing agricultural production alone will not feed 9 billion people by 2050.

The initial vote showed that 60% of the audience intended to vote in favour of the motion. However, at the conclusion of the debate, 73% of the audience voted for against, indicating the negative team had argued their points persuasively.

The event was recorded, and video of the event will be available shortly. The Waite Research Institute also used Twitter to engage with a broader audience during the event and a summary made using Keepstream and including the main points from speakers and audience questions can be found here http://keepstream.com/waiteresearch/debate-at-the-waite-august-2011.

The Waite Research Institute would like to thank all of those involved in the event, in particular the debaters and the moderator. Monitor our website, follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ us on Facebook to hear about future events.

New ARC Linkage Projects to increase plant nutrient use efficiency and yield

Waite researchers have once again attracted significant funding through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Scheme. Linkage Projects encourage collaboration between University researchers and industry to develop solutions to key challenges and provide economic and social benefits.

“These new Linkage Projects represent significant new investment in research at the Waite” said Waite Research Institute Director, Professor Roger Leigh. “Both projects involving Waite researchers have the potential to deliver significant benefits to Australia’s agricultural sector and I personally congratulate all of the researchers involved.”

The new ARC Linkage Projects for 2011 involving the Waite researchers are:

“Transport systems that underpin nitrogen efficient maize”

Dr Brent N Kaiser, Prof Stephen D Tyerman, Dr Kanwarpal S Dhugga, Dr Jan A Rafalski

Nitrogen applications to grain crops are a major determinant of grain yield and quality. Greater efficiency in the use of nitrogen will contribute to more sustainable grain production systems. This project aims to identify plant-based processes involved in nitrogen use by maize. It will define the nitrogen transport network underpinning in the uptake, storage and redistribution of inorganic nitrogen (nitrate and ammonium) over the developmental life cycle of maize. This information will provide novel insight into the genetic control of nitrogen use in maize and other cereal crops.

Partner organisation: DuPont Pioneer

Value: $750,110 over 5 years

“Improving yield through image-based structural analysis of cereals”

Prof Anton J van den Hengel, Prof Mark A Tester, Dr Anthony R Dick, Dr Joerg Vandenhirtz

Feeding an increasing world population under the threat of climate change requires the development of new plant varieties capable of delivering higher yield in more marginal conditions. This project will develop image-based technologies for accurately estimating plant yield which will improve the effectiveness of plant breeding processes.

Partner organisation: LemnaTec GmbH

Value:$475,000 over 5 years

The Waite Research Institute congratulates these ARC Linkage Project recipients and all of the successful researchers at the University of Adelaide.

For more information on successful ARC Linkage Projects, see the University of Adelaide’s media release and the ARC’s Linkage Project Funding Outcomes

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

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.


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).

National Sustainable Food Summit 2011

Fruits and Vegetables

The WRI Director, Professor Roger Leigh, recently attended the National Sustainable Food Summit held at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on 5 & 6 April 2011. The Summit was attended by a range of national and international experts from across the whole food chain including agricultural researchers, food industry players, and sustainability experts. They discussed how food production and use could be undertaken more sustainably and what new paradigms need to be implemented to meet the twin needs of sustainability and productivity.

The event (sponsored by a number of bodies including Meat & Livestock Australia, The Australian Food & Grocery Council, WWF, Sustainability Victoria, the Global Foresight Network, the National Farmers Federation, Net Balance, The Biogenesys Project and EPA Victoria) included a number of plenary lectures followed by group discussions addressing issues such as Sustainable Farming and Resource Management, Food Processing and Distribution,  Consumption, Food Waste, Stakeholder Engagement, Equity and Fair Trade, Supply Chain Transparency and Traceability, and Local Food Economies.

The Summit explored both the existing state of Australia’s food security and ways to ensure its continued robustness. In particular, the delegates dissected the challenges Australia’s food system can expect, business models and capabilities to deal with these challenges, knowledge and skills and the role of government, industry, farmers and community, with a view to making policy recommendations that may inform the National Food Plan and begin to change Australia’s food landscape.

ACPFG Promotes: Peter Langridge on Radio National ‘Australia Talks’ TONIGHT 6pm.

Australia Talks Interview: Food Security

Food prices have hit an all-time high this year, according to the United Nations. In fact anger over sharp hikes in the price of food staples helped spark the bloody riots in the Middle East this year, as well as protests in India. So are we at the verge of a new food crisis? And could that have implications for global stability?

You will find a brief blurb about the interview on the Australia Talks website at:


The show airs at 6pm.

The telephone number if you wish to be a caller on the show is 1300 22 55 76.

The show airs on:

Adelaide 729AM | Brisbane 792AM | Canberra 846AM Darwin 657AM |
Gold Coast
90.1FM | Hobart 585AM Melbourne 621AM | Newcastle 1512AM
Perth 810AM | Sydney 576AM


Amanda Hudswell
Communications Manager – Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd
Skype address : amanda.hudswell1

Plant Genomics Centre, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae SA 5064
Postal address : PMB 1, Glen Osmond South Australia 5064
Ph : 08 8303 7230 or : 0400 322 272