Science and Research Overview
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is the largest provider of science and research services within the NSW Government. The department undertakes strategic science which underpins the growth, sustainability and biosecurity of primary industries in NSW. NSW DPI scientists have been ranked in the top 1% of world research institutions in agricultural science, and plant and animal science.
Role of Primary Industries Science and Research
Primary Industries science and research activity is integrated within the business and operational units of the department. The Chief Scientist's Branch plays a support role in coordinating science activity across NSW DPI with an aim to:
- provide strategic science to enhance the growth, sustainability and biosecurity of NSW primary industries;
- undertake research and development;
- advise on research and science policy and issues;
- coordinate research investments, and foster alliances and cooperative ventures;
- develop innovative solutions and technologies;
- underpin creative solutions to enhance public policy.
Detailed priorities have been established and fall within four key result areas:
Strong economic performance of primary industries
Research focuses on enhancing primary industry profitability across NSW, either directly through innovation or indirectly by addressing constraints to present and future productive capacity. Strategic investment is made in ‘frontier’ technologies, particularly in agricultural biotechnology, genomics, functional foods and fisheries technology. Emphasis is placed on facilitating market access and improved management of risk (both climate variability and market volatility).
Wise management of natural resources
Farmers manage about 76% of the land in NSW and a similar proportion of the State’s developed water resources. NSW DPI pursues new farming systems that are profitable and compatible with natural processes. It also works with landholders to develop systems of on-farm land use and management that deliver off-farm environmental benefits for the broader community.
The Division is also working to monitor wild stocks and important fish habitats to ensure that the information necessary to manage the state’s commercial and recreational fisheries is available in a timely manner and provided to exacting standards.
A significant component of the state’s natural resources in publicly owned lands is managed as part of the forestry estate. Agricultural Resources Branch is working to develop and deliver systems and procedures for improving, testing, measuring and reporting on the ecological sustainability of resource use on public land and the contribution forestry can make to environmental outcomes of private land.
Healthy and safe industries
Anticipated trade liberalisation will increase the movement of commodities and processed products across state and national borders, significantly increasing the risk of incursion of exotic pests and diseases. The department researches endemic, exotic and emerging pests and diseases that represent hazards to the production, welfare and market access of the State’s plant and animal products. This research will provide the science that underpins effective biosecurity policy and its implementation.
Excellence in service delivery
NSW DPI science will strive to maintain and enhance its research capacity and culture of innovation to deliver quantifiable improvements in production and resource management, and science-based solutions to industry and public policy.
Scientific research informs decision-making from the primary producer to the marketplace to the consumer.
At any given moment NSW DPI is undertaking more than 900 science projects in collaboration with Federal and State departments, cooperative research centres and industry groups.
In all its research outcomes NSW DPI aims to balance the needs of primary producers and long-term natural resource management.
With science capacity integrated into business units across the department, scientific activity is grouped in these broad research areas:
- Forest Health Research
- Animal Health Research
- Vertebrate Pest
- Weeds Research
- Plant Pathology
- Plant Entomology
Chief Scientific Officer's Branch
NSW DPI researchers have expertise in a wide range of fields including genetics, biology, economics, physiology, entomology, ecology, aquaculture, pathology, microbiology, chemistry, soil science, agronomy, biometry, geology, geophysics, and mineral and petroleum science. International profiles are maintained by scientists undertaking contract work overseas or attending specialist conferences.
Research centres and locations
NSW DPI science investment is focused on key centres, which are strategically located across NSW and linked with the industries and communities that co-invest in their R&D.
NSW DPI has an active continuous improvement program in its research and service laboratories. This program is supported by NATA accreditation to ISO 17025 in all service laboratories, as well as ISO 9001 certification in research laboratories.
Significant national resources are housed in scientific collections across NSW. They contain physical specimens and historical records relating to plant genotypes, soils, rocks, minerals, fossils, forestry woods, fish, insects, mites, fungi and bacteria. They include living cultures of fungi and bacteria and are of immense quarantine and diagnostic significance. The fossil reference collection forms the basis for dating rock strata in NSW.
NSW DPI Primary Industries research model
NSW DPI's research model is an integrated model, responsive both to industry needs (‘market pull’) and to innovation by scientists (‘technology push’). The model is sufficiently flexible to accommodate industry needs for cross-disciplinary research but also maintains long-standing activity in key areas of public benefit, such as natural resource management. Key research alliances occur through cooperative research centres, joint ventures and contracted research.
Cooperative research centres
In 2012/13, NSW DPI is involved with eight current CRCs.
Joint venture arrangements exist with a number of state agencies, commercial partners and universities. Examples include the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (with Charles Sturt University), Primary Industries Innovation Centre (University of New England), Centre for Coastal Agricultural Landscapes (Southern Cross University), Centre for Animal & Plant Biosecurity (University of Sydney).
NSW DPI has 11 industry corporation investment partners, with major investment also from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, BioFirst, Natural Heritage Trust, National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, and the Murray–Darling Basin Commission. Primary producers are also involved in advisory panels and field research. A critical component of the NSW DPI research model is the integration of research and extension in a statewide network of advisory and education specialists working alongside research scientists. Research outcomes can be delivered through cross-discipline teams, ensuring that they meet the needs of community, industry and government.
Chief Scientific Officer NSW DPI
Dr Philip Wright
Telephone 02 6391 3165
For more information on NSW DPI science, see www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/research