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Sod turning signals Curtin’s and GRDC’s commitment to agriculture research

Media release

The building of Curtin University’s $40 million agriculture research facility has commenced, with the start of construction marked by a sod turning ceremony.

John Harvey and Deborah Terry

The facility will allow the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM), an initiative developed in partnership between Curtin and Australian grain growers through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), to safely carry out pathogen research with high containment, and ultimately help reduce the economic impact of important grain diseases.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry attended the ceremony with the Managing Director of GRDC John Harvey.

Professor Terry said the building was an important part of Curtin’s commitment to the bilateral agreement with GRDC launched earlier this year.

“The new facility demonstrates the value of long term co-investment models to ensure the maximum impact of GRDC funds by supporting the research activities and infrastructure that deliver better bottom- line solutions to the Australian grains industry,” Professor Terry said.

“The new laboratory building will contain uniquely-designed physical containment (PC) laboratories to enable high-level experimentation on pathogens that are of threat to Australian farming systems.

“Such research is crucial to the future success and profitability of the agricultural industry.”

The CCDM will work on a number of important crop diseases within the building, including Yellow Spot, Septoria Nodorum Blotch, Powdery Mildew, Net Blotch of barley, Sclerotinia and Ascochyta Blight. The research aims to target both the fungal pathogens and the affected crops varieties.

Professor Terry said there were approximately 50 scientists working in the CCDM across 10 program areas, with numbers expected to grow beyond 70 when the new building is completed in 2016.

“Curtin’s commitment to agricultural research is stronger than ever and I look forward to seeing the research outcomes make a difference to farm businesses and the wider agricultural community,” Professor Terry added.

Notes to editor:

  • Images from the sod turning ceremony available on request.