The 38th annual sugar technologists conference is underway in Mackay and there is plenty to talk about, from the latest research to the newest industry innovations.
The event provides a chance for the industry to map out the future in terms of its research and innovation priorities, not just in Australia but around the world.
Sugar Research Australia (SRA) revealed a new research partnership with India to further research the development of new sugarcane varieties.
The project has been awarded more than $600,000 through the Commonwealth Government’s Australia–India Strategic Research fund.
SRA executive manager of technologies, Peter Allsop, said the project had a number of specific focuses.
“It is very much about developing markers for things like drought resistance, sugar content, cane yield and a disease called red-rot, which is common to both of the countries,” he said.
“It is really taking some of our field results and mapping them back to the genetics within the sugarcane plant.
“We can use that bit of genetics to allow us to select material — those really good varieties — much earlier in our breeding program.”
It is hoped the research partnership with India will help shorten the breeding cycle from 12 years to possibly 10 years.
Mr Allsop also highlighted the reason why India in particular was chosen for the pairing.
Variety is the cornerstone of the farming operation; if you have not got a good variety then it is very difficult to make the best use of that variety.Peter Allsop, SRA executive manager of technologies
“It is the second-biggest producer of sugar in the world, so it is a massive industry [and] they have a lot of experience with different varieties to what we have,” he said.
“Our genetic pool is somewhat different to the Indian sugar cane genetic pool … they also have a lot of experience in this molecular biology area.”
Improving the water efficiency of cane varieties for Australian growers will also be another major focus area of the collaboration.
“Water is expensive in itself and also in the electricity that you need to get it there, so can we make those varieties more efficient?” Mr Allsop said.
He also said the research project would benefit the entire spectrum of the sugarcane industry, from growers to mills and everyone in between.
“Variety is the cornerstone of the farming operation; if you have not got a good variety then it is very difficult to make the best use of that variety,” Mr Allsop said.
“So start off with a good product that is adapted to your conditions … that is what we are really trying to do.”
Source – ABC