Announced today during the AgriPark Forum held at the Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, was the earmarking of $14 million in funding for the first stage of capital works expansion of the AgriPark.
But landholders will be more intrigued by the further announcement of $19.9 million to establish the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (Drought Hub) to be housed at AgriPark.
The Drought Hub will receive $8 million in operational funding over four years from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's Future Drought Fund, with a further investment of $11.9 million from the consortium partners.
Andrew Metcalf AO, secretary, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra noted the Drought Hub will bring farmers, industry and researchers together to work on programs to drive drought resilience, and provide a central point of knowledge and two-way approach to sharing and trialling new approaches to reduce the impact of drought.
"The hubs are meant to be really practical, so it is not just research for the sake of research but the whole idea of the hubs is to bring together researchers, industry and farming groups and others to create practical outcomes," Mr Metcalfe said.
"It will help farmers and graziers to become aware of new and different practices.
"We know we are going to face more severe weather events, we have seen over the past generation a warming and drying of the climate.
"Our farming community understand that so this is about giving them practical information and all the innovation developments we are driving at the moment are about getting that information and advice to people on the ground."
The Hon Niall Blair, industry professor, Food Sustainability, Charles Sturt University, pointed out CSU has the largest regional footprint in Australia and it is a prime position to utilise its facilities and locations to tailor and share information in a way that's relevant to various climates, farming systems and local conditions.
"We are going back to the future," Professor Blair said.
"To a degree we are moving back into the extensions space with the Drought Hub which is probably something if you speak to most farmers, that is something that has been lacking which has been lacking for maybe the last ten or even twenty years."
As Australia's leading online University, Charles Sturt will mobilise its reach using technology to share drought research and insights relevant to the agricultural sector.
"I don't think we can say a lot of the research in the past and even new innovation has even made it on to the farm and that is because of the lack of extension," Professor Blair said.
"So the model that we have formed here involves a series of knowledge brokers who will be dispersed and based closer to those farming communities and that comes from our strong link with the farming system groups."
He pointed out the success that can come for landholders through the uptake of research where innovation, new ideas, new technology or new ways of doing business can actually filter that out through the Drought Hub networks.
"More importantly we don't just research for research sake," Professor Blair said.
"We actually have to have a two-way street with this knowledge transfer so our knowledge brokers are actually coming back to us and saying - these are the challenges and the problems we are seeing and this is what we need to focus our efforts.
"I think this is really unique in the fact that it is not just government saying - we are going to do this - or not just researchers moving in an area, you have true collaboration, where the extension and knowledge broking transfer is as much about the success as the good ideas."
The Drought Hub based at Wagga Wagga is one of eight across Australia and all will be able to transfer knowledge which might make an impact in an area far from the original research.
"The hubs are going to work with each other, and we might find something which comes out of WA we think could have an application here in southern NSW," Professor Blair said.
"We have the ability to do that and get it out on the ground quickly - it is not about printing papers which sit on a shelf somewhere - its about having an impact on farm and we do that with trusted locals working through farming systems groups and I think that is the trick with this one."
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