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Improving the profitability of pulse production through local validation of research outcomes in the Southern Region
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The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.
The adoption of pulses across the medium rainfall areas of the GRDC Southern region has grown consistently since adapted varieties were released for faba beans (1980’s) lentils (1990’s) and chickpeas (1990’s). In addition, other grain legume crops, including lupins, field peas and vetch, have been generally well adopted in the medium and low rainfall areas, but uptake in high rainfall zones is still limited. Research and grower experience has identified many benefits of including pulses in rotations, with improved yields in following cereal and canola crops being one of the main drivers of adoption. Pulse crops provide significant nitrogen (N) inputs to cropping systems through biological N fixation and reduce overall requirements for N fertiliser. As the incidences of herbicide resistant weeds and cereal diseases increase, particularly under continuous cropping and no-till farming systems, the need for suitable rotational break crops such as pulses has increased. The recent development of herbicide tolerant lentils has also contributed to improved management of these weeds in cropping systems and allowed the expansion of lentil in non-traditional production areas. High chickpea and lentil prices and relatively low cereal prices over the past few years are seeing some of these pulses become a highly profitable option in their own right.
Market analysis suggests there is large demand and limited supply of lentil and chickpea into the Indian subcontinent in the short to medium term, so there appears to be scope to boost production within Australia without having a major impact on prices and profitability. Hence, a key element of the GRDC Southern region strategy is to realise the potential long-term farming system and financial benefits of growing pulse crops through targeted expansion into new areas or through sustainable intensification of production in existing pulse areas. To achieve this, there is a need to build upon the core research activities of the GRDC Southern Pulse Agronomy program (DAV00150) and Pulse Breeding Australia investments to develop and validate local agronomic practices that address major constraints to pulse profitability for each agro-ecological zone, considering crop phenology, farming system, environment and risk. A series of field trials is required to generate local data to assess the impact of new pulse information, practices and technologies on farming systems and grower profitability.
The investment proposed here will prioritise the most important pulse crops and the key constraints to production in each agro-ecological zone across the southern region. Based on these priorities, the project will design, undertake, analyse and report upon a coordinated pulse validation program that will generate local, small-plot, replicated, field trial data supporting grower and advisor decisions regarding agronomic practices that optimise the fit of pulses to local farming systems and their impact on profitability. GRDC recently made a significant extension and communication investment in pulse crops entitled: Improving the profitability of pulse production through targeted extension of research outcomes to growers and advisors in the southern region (PROC 9175825). This pulse extension project is being led by Birchip Cropping Group. The validation investment proposed here will generate data that will be disseminated through the pulse extension project and the two complementary investments should be closely linked. As a result of both projects, growers and advisors will have an awareness of the major risks and constraints associated with the production of key pulse crops in their local area, and improved confidence in the adoption of agronomic practices and genotypes with improved traits to mitigate the key risks. This validation investment will take the key learnings of the Southern Pulse Agronomy program (DAV00150), National Variety Testing Program and other relevant pulse research and development activities, and generate data that can be freely accessed to determine the applicability, benefits and key considerations to drive on-farm adoption at a local level.
The GRDC seeks to undertake a targeted validation trial program of significant scale to deliver local data and knowledge for the development of pulse crops suitable to areas across the southern region where research and development is limited. In collaboration with the Southern Pulse Agronomy project (DAV00150), pulse crops and constraints need to be prioritised for each agro-ecological zone to develop the focus of the validation program. For example, it is envisaged that up to four of the most important pulse crops and up to four constraints will be examined in each zone where gaps exist. Local biophysical data from the validation trials and their impact on crop management, farming systems and farm economics will be made publicly available. The validation trial data will feed back into research and development activities of the Southern Pulse Agronomy project, and new knowledge will flow into the pulse extension project (PROC 9175825). In partnership with these and other GRDC projects, this three and a half year investment, starting early 2018, will deliver greater knowledge of the pulse phenotypes suited to each agro-ecological zone and management practices to optimise their production and profitability.
By June 2021, grain growers, advisers and industry will have access to local trial data that address the main constraints to the production of key pulse crops in each agro-ecological zone across the southern region. These data will quantify the adaptation and performance of key pulse crops in each zone, and the benefits of traits and management practices providing adaptation to local environments and farming systems, and enduring profit. These data and supporting economic analyses will contribute to grower and advisor confidence in pulse production, and will inform optimum agronomic practices for specific pulse phenotypes through evaluation of their applicability, profitability and risk in local environments.
The indicative GRDC investment is up to $2.4 million. The GRDC is focused on delivering value to Australian grain growers; therefore, your application must demonstrate fair market value. Leverage of GRDC funds through in-kind and cash co-contributions is viewed favourably. Applicants should comply with the tender requirements and draft GRDC standard Two Party Research Agreements.
This proposed investment would be undertaken over a period from 30 March 2018 to 1 May 2021 and will be delivered across the GRDC Southern Region.
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1. The Applicant must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners.
2. The Applicant must be financially viable. For the purposes of this condition, “financially viable” means that the Tenderer has not had any of the following events occur in respect of it:
a. a meeting of creditors being called or held within the past five years;
b. the appointment of a liquidator, provisional liquidator or administrator within the past five years;
c. the appointment of a controller (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act (2001)), or analogous person appointed, including in respect of any of its property within the past five years;
d. a failure to comply with a statutory demand in respect of the payment of any debt;
e. an inability to pay debts as they fall due or otherwise becoming insolvent;
f. becoming incapable of managing its own affairs for any reason;
g. taking any step resulting in insolvency under administration (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001);
h. entering into a compromise or arrangement with, or assignment for the benefit of, any of its creditors, or any analogous event.
3. The Applicant and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
4. The Applicant must include in its application details of any known circumstances that may give rise to an actual or potential Conflict of Interest with GRDC in responding to this procurement. The Applicant's response will be taken into account in the evaluation.
5. The Applicant must be a recognised research institution with a proven track record in agronomy, farming systems and/or soil science
30 March 2018 to 1 May 2021
By portal submission only at https://access.grdc.com.au/