Thursday, 20 February 2020 00:48

New technology aims to speed up development of more resilient crops Featured

Dr Federico Ribalta WA University Dr Federico Ribalta WA University

Research collaboration led by the University of Western Australia has created a new technique that speeds up the development of seeds, producing better quality and more abundant pulse crops.

The researchers from UWA’s Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding say they developed the pulse-breeding platform to allow seeds to develop faster by rapidly accelerating the plant life cycle.

Australia produces around 2.25 million tonnes of pulses annually,but according to UWA changes in the production environment such as climate, new pests, water shortages and higher farming costs have led to pulse breeders looking for better strategies to ensure their crop material can adapt to changing conditions.

The accelerated-Single-Seed-Descent platform is claimed as the first of its kind that uses LED technology to encourage the plants to flower quickly and develop their seeds faster - with the resultant crops more resilient, requiring fewer chemical treatments and having reduced running costs.

Lead researcher, Dr Janine Croser from UWA’s Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding, said the research was carried out in response to feedback from farmers about practical problems on the land.

“As we move into more instability in our regions, we will be able to respond more quickly to emerging issues and address these through our breeding platforms,” Dr Janine Croser said.

UWA researcher Dr Federico Ribalta said the team had extended the research - to investigate the development of key breeding populations for Australian grown legumes.

“Working in close collaboration with breeders means that there is a faster release of new varieties for farmers,” Dr Ribalta said.

This research was supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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