Australia leads perennial wheat research with workshop

Australia is leading the research into perennial wheat with an exclusive workshop, featuring plant researchers across the globe, to be held in NSW this week.

The International Workshop in Perennial Grain Crops will be hosted by Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

“Many researchers now working on perennial crops will gather at the workshop so we can discuss progress, the way forward, and opportunities to secure support for further research,” said CSU Professor in agronomy Len Wade.

Unlike annual grain crops such as wheat and rice, perennial crops grow for two or more seasons. Mr Wade said the research into perennial crops aimed to increase and stabilise the production of staple grains worldwide.

“As the world population increases, the efficient production of rice and wheat, some of the world’s most consumed foods, are becoming increasingly important. Food security is now a clear global priority.

“As a result, crops are urgently needed which can make more efficient use of available soil and water,” Mr Wade said.

Mr Wade said Australia was working with China and the US on the research into the genetics of perennial wheat. He said that the research was still at an “early stage,” however there was the potential for perennial wheat to be grown in Australian soil.

“The application envisaged in Australia is to give producers a perennial graze-and-grain option with the attending benefits of reduced erosion of fragile soils, enhanced interception of rainfall, enhanced nutrient capture, reduced fuel use, and increased soil carbon sequestration,” Mr Wade said.

The International Workshop on Perennial Grain Crops will review the progress of research, including a project being conducted by CSU and other partners through the Cooperative Research Centre for Future Farm Industries.

As part of the Perennial Wheat Feasibility Study project, different types of perennial wheat from Washington State University and the Land Institute in the USA have been grown in the field at Cowra in central west NSW. The trial sites will be visited by workshop delegates this Wednesday.

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