New research facilities in Victoria to foster medicinal innovations, improve food production

La Trobe University’s Agribio research centre. Image credit: La Trobe University’s

Victorian agriculture researchers now have a greater capacity to explore medicinal innovations and improved food production with the opening of new facilities at the Agribio research centre at La Trobe University.

Minister for Skills and TAFE Gayle Tierney today opened new research glasshouses at La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus following a $10 million Victorian Government investment to expand resources for Victorian agriculture and food research.

La Trobe invested $3.5 million of the funding to the glasshouses through the Agriculture Production Platform project, the government said in a news release.

In particular, the facility now includes controlled environment pods to create new and improved plant varieties.

The facility supports scientists in developing medicinal agriculture innovations, drought-resistant plants, and crops that need fewer pesticides and uses high-tech visual apparatus to detect and link plants’ physical characteristics with genes.

The technology also enables plant breeders to quickly determine the genetic material to take forward and breed.

The remaining $6.5 million will fund the Applied Industry Agriculture Platforms project to develop dedicated plant phenomics growth chambers with remote digital access for regional industry, researchers and students.

Delivered through the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund, the project supports 120 jobs related to new and expanded research, industry infrastructure and partnerships.

The $350 million Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund supports universities with financial assistance for capital works, applied research and research infrastructure to create more jobs and grow Victoria’s economy.

Minister Tierney stated that by supporting universities in Victoria, they could harness the remarkable knowledge and skills of researchers to develop a more innovative and responsive agriculture industry that caters to the needs of the next generation of Victorians.

“We look forward to the new discoveries that La Trobe University’s agriculture researchers will uncover,” the minister said.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence mentioned that they are maintaining their investment in top-tier research facilities, which would benefit the agriculture industry both in the present and in the future.

“Research and innovation play a key role in ensuring Victoria’s agriculture industry remains productive, resilient and equipped with the best technology to solve real-world problems,” Minister Spence noted.

Meanwhile, La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar noted that the investment by the Victorian Government would aid La Trobe’s exceptional researchers in enhancing food security, agricultural productivity, and sustainability.

The vice chancellor said this impact would extend beyond Victoria, benefitting a global audience.