CSIRO and Bayer collaborate on sustainable crops

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 23rd March 2010

CSIRO has announced a two-year research program in collaboration with Bayer CropScience to create tools to assess sustainability of ‘new-generation’ crops in Australia.

The study will model the consequences of environmental change and food security issues on ‘new-generation’ cereals.  These new cereals use advanced forms of traditional breeding methods to select for desirable qualities in a plant.  The possibilities of genetic modification will also be explored, although no trials will be involved in the research program.  New-generation cereals are expected to deliver increased yield, efficient nutrient use and improved resistance to environmental stresses.

The modelling systems developed by the research program will assess the impacts of the new crops at plant, crop, field, regional and international scales.  Existing simulation models will be supported by life cycle analysis to examine ‘system-wide’ impacts.  Initially, the project will focus on Australia.

The Director of CSIRO’s Sustainable Agriculture Flagship, Dr Brian Keating, said new-generation crops offer enormous potential to help Australia and the rest of the world deal with the future demand for food.

“Through reduced input requirements and improved efficiency in the use of water, energy and nutrients, they also have the potential to reduce pressure on the environment, including reduction of greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change,” Dr Keating said.

“We are convinced that innovative new generation crops can deliver greater yield per hectare while requiring less resources such as water and energy,” said Dr Joachim Schneider of Bayer CropScience.

As well as studying the cereals’ ability to succeed, the study will also examine the possible impact of these new crops on their environment.  Results of the program will be published in peer-reviewed journals.