Tag Archives: Roger Leigh

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.

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.

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.

SA Minister for Education and Science Tours Waite Campus

The Hon. Jack Snelling MP (Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for Road Safety, Minister for Veterans Affairs), visited the Waite Campus on Tuesday 7 December 2010. He was accompanied by his advisor Dr Tung Ngo and Carolyn Anderson, Director, Science and Information Economy, DFEEST.

Jason Eglinton, Jack Snelling MP and Roger Leigh, 7 Dec 2010

Jason Eglinton, Jack Snelling MP and Roger Leigh

The purpose of the visit was to showcase some of the Waite’s key agricultural research areas to the Minister. Professor Roger Leigh, Head of the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, and Director of the WRI and Mr Martyn Evans, Director Community Engagement, UoA took the Minister to some key buildings at the Waite campus. They visited the Barley Breeding laboratories where the group was given an overview by Associate Professor Jason Eglinton, they then walked to the Wine Innovation Centre (WIC) building and were given a tour by Professor Dennis Taylor. This was followed by a demonstration of how populations of plants can be climatised using The Plant Accelerator (TPA) with Professor Mark Tester then it was onto the Plant Genomics Centre for a tour with Professor Geoff Fincher.

A luncheon was held on the main balcony of the Plant Genomics Centre and this was also attended by Mr Perry Gunner, Chair WRI and Deputy-Chair, Viterra, Professor Mike Brooks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research), UoA, Professor Bob Gibson, Director FOODplus Research Centre, UoA and Professor Diane Mather, Plant Breeding and Genetics, UoA. During lunch there was a lively discussion about future developments on the Waite and their importance to South Australia.

All up it was a very informative and successful visit to the Waite and the Campus looks forward to Minister Snelling returning soon for possible follow-up collaborations.

Official launch of Foodplus and Public Event

The Foodplus Panel

The Foodplus Panel

On Wednesday the 8th December on the eve of the  launch of FOODplus Research Centre, a public event was held at the Elder Hall. A panel of nutrition experts was convened to discuss Food for Health and the myths surrounding this topic. This was a well attended event and provoked a lively discussion. The recording is now available here for those who missed this event or would like to hear it again.

We are very pleased to announce that on Thursday the 9th of December, Foodplus was officially launched in the Mortlock Chamber of the State Library by the Hon. Michael O’Brien, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the Hon. John Hill, Minister for Health. Also  speaking at this event were Mr Frank Kite, chair of Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute council, Professor Roger Leigh, director of Waite Research Institute and Head of School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Richard Russell AM, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Operations) University of Adelaide and Professor Robert Gibson, director of FOODplus Research Centre.

 

Professor Rober Gibson, The Hon. Michael O'Brien and Professor Roger Leigh

Professor Rober Gibson, The Hon. Michael O'Brien and Professor Roger Leigh

Chinese Academy Sciences visit the Waite Campus

On Monday November 15, 2010 the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus was honoured by a visit from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) President, Professor Lu Yongxiang. A key issue of mutual concern between China and Australia is research into solutions for global food security.

Members of the President’s official delegation were;

  • Professor Tan Tieniiu, Deputy Secretary General, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
  • Professor Lu Yonglong, Director General, Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
  • Professor Yang Weicai, Deputy Director General, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
  • Mr Deng Fanjin, Personal Assistant to President Lu Yongxiang and
  • Mr Shizhuan Zhang, Acting Deputy  Director, Division of American & Oceanian Affairs, Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

They were also accompanied by Mr Feng Xuan from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, Ms Nancy Pritchard, Manager – International Programs, Australian Academy of Science and Ms Mary Finlay, General Manager – International Science and EIF Branch Science and Infrastructure Division, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

The tour included a visit to the Plant Genomics Centre, the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (The Plant Accelerator), the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory (the Winery) and Urrbrae house. At Urrbrae house a MOU on cooperation between the University of Adelaide and the CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology was signed by Professor Yang Weicai and Professor Mike Brooks, Deputy Vice Chancellor & Vice President (Research). CAS President Professor Lu then met with Professor James McWha, Vice Chancellor & President, Professor Brooks, and Professor John Taplin, Pro Vice Chancellor (International).

UoA Vice Chancellor, Professor James McWha (left) and CAS President, Professor Lu Yongxiang outside Urrbrae house, Waite campus.

UoA Vice Chancellor, Professor James McWha (left) and CAS President, Professor Lu Yongxiang outside Urrbrae house, Waite campus.

 

This was then followed by a luncheon hosted by Professor McWha in Urrbrae’s dining room including the following additional guests;

  • Professor Roger Leigh, Head of Agriculture, Food and Wine (AFW) School and Director, Waite Research Institute (WRI)
  • Professor Mark Tester, Director, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
  • Professor Peter Langridge, CEO of Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG)
  • Professor Geoff Fincher, Deputy CEO of Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and Director-designate of the ARC Centre of Excellence on Plant Cell Walls.
  • Professor Mike Keller, Associate Dean (International), Faculty of Sciences
  • Ms Sandy McConachy, Director, East Asia Strategy
  • Ms Nancy Pritchard, Manager – International Programs, Australian Academy of Science
  • Ms Mary Finlay, General Manager, International Science and EIF Branch Science and Infrastructure Division, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

On Wednesday 17 November, several research delegates from CAS also visited and toured the Waite campus. The group was accompanied by Ms Shannon Newham and Megan from the Australian Academy of Science. The morning began with Professor Roger Leigh giving an introductory talk about the School of AFW and the WRI. This was followed by Professor Bob Gibson’s overview of the specialised research conducted at the FOODplus Research Centre.

After a brief walk up Hartley Grove to the Plant Genomics Centre, the delegates then toured the facility with Professor Peter Langridge, CEO of ACPFG and Research Fellow Bu-Jun Shi.

ACPFG Research Fellow Dr Bu-Jun Shi (seated far left) and Professor Roger Leigh, Head of School AFW and Director WRI (seated second from right) with the research delegates from CAS in Reception of the ACPFG building

ACPFG Research Fellow Dr Bu-Jun Shi (seated far left) and Professor Roger Leigh, Head of School AFW and Director WRI (seated second from right) with the research delegates from CAS in Reception of the ACPFG building

The CAS Delegates also visited The Plant Accelerator building and received a tour from Professor Mark Tester, Director, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility.

Professor Mark Tester Director, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (standing centre) with CAS research delegates outside TPA, Wednesday 17 Nov 2010

Professor Mark Tester Director, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (standing centre) with CAS research delegates outside TPA, Wednesday 17 Nov 2010

This was followed by a tour of the joint CAS laboratory in CSIRO’s Taylor Building by Professors Sally and Andrew Smith.

<Professor Sally Smith with the CAS delegates in the Taylor Building Wednesday 17 November 2010

Professor Sally Smith with the CAS delegates in the Taylor Building Wednesday 17 November 2010

CAS delegates outside the Taylor Building Wednesday 17 November 2010 with Professor Andrew Smith (standing 3rd from left) and Professor Sally Smith (standing 6th from left)

CAS delegates outside the Taylor Building Wednesday 17 November 2010 with Professor Andrew Smith (standing 3rd from left) and Professor Sally Smith (standing 6th from left)

Lastly, but not least, after another brisk walk across campus, the group got an excellent overview of the Barley Breeding Program by Associate Professor Jason Eglinton.

 

Associate Professor Jason Eglinton discussing the successes of the Barley Breeding Program in the ‘Northern Barns’ laboratories.

Associate Professor Jason Eglinton discussing the successes of the Barley Breeding Program in the ‘Northern Barns’ laboratories.

 

The extensive morning tour was then concluded with a much-appreciated lunch break at the Lirra Lirra cafe. Following lunch the CAS delegates walked back up the hill to tour SARDI within the Plant Research Centre and to see the various hot houses and growth chambers.

These two CAS visits to the Waite Campus on Monday 15 and Wednesday 17 November were very important for the University of Adelaide and all the collocated partners at the Waite campus as they helped strengthened agricultural research linkages between China and Australia.