Reflecting on the ten year anniversary of the opening of the Nuseed Innovation Centre (NIC) in Horsham, Victoria, Nuseed Australia's general manager Rachel Palumbo said the advances made by the NIC team had demonstrated world class research work could be done in rural areas.
The Horsham centre is one of three designated Nuseed research hubs, with the others in West Sacramento in the US and Venado Tuerto, in Argentina and is the organisation's headquarters for its successful canola breeding program.
All the current Nuseed lines were bred at the Horsham facility.
There has been a stunning uptake of the technology with Ms Palumbo estimating close to 50pc of Australia's planted canola area featured Nuseed genetics.
She said this meant the NIC's economic contribution was difficult to overstate.
"The NIC contributed more than $2.5b in farmgate value to the Australia economy in the 2022-23 season," she said.
Over the last decade, two varieties alone featuring Nuseed genetics have been planted on more than one million hectares in Australia, ATR-Bonito and Nuseed HyTTec Trophy."
Canola has been one of the star success stories of the Australian grains industry over the past decade, with both yields and prices increasing significantly.
Previously national production of 3 million tonnes was considered the benchmark, last year the national crop was over 7.6m tonnes.
Similarly on pricing, a figure of $400 a tonne was the long term average, during this season prices rose to as much as $1000/t on the back of strong European demand, while the current figure of around $625/t is providing growers with excellent gross margins per hectare.
While an increased production footprint is partially responsible for the step up in production, better genetics have also played a key role in achieving the 31 per cent gains in productivity per hectare the industry has seen.
"Nuseed has led the way on plant breeding productivity, with the NIC being the first lab to pioneer canola Double Haploid technology in Australia, enabling more efficient crop breeding on our own soil," Ms Palumbo said.
She said the centre was also responsible for the advent of the high value canola sector, breeding the first commercial Omega-3 canola variety, among seven of the top ten best-selling canola varieties to have come out of Australia.
But it was not just the agronomic advances Ms Palumbo wanted to highlight.
"Genetic science and crop technology is a growing area of the agriculture industry."
"It's becoming a big focus as we look towards more sustainable initiatives to cater to the growing global population, and we're seeing regional towns benefit from these developments, all the way from growers on the land to
technically-skilled workers with a bright future in innovation."
"We've seen this in our Horsham innovation centre, which has created over 30 highly skilled jobs in the regional community, which has in turn helped the town to grow as the Australian centre of canola breeding."
She said creating a critical mass of opportunities allowed regional centres to develop.
"Regional innovation means that these skilled individuals aren't limited to larger cities, but rather are able to develop their skills within the passion of their communities."
She said the trend to consider working in a regional area was growing among younger workers.
The NIC has had a hand in the achievement of 4 PhDs with another 3 currently underway, while a further two post-graduate qualifications can be linked back to the NIC within the past ten years alone.
"We're also furthering undergraduate education opportunities, with 13 of our employees having recently completed or currently undertaking relevant undergraduate studies."