The Northern Cropping Systems research team based at GPII works closely with grain growers and industry organisations to develop improved varieties of broad acre crops for the diverse farming systems and environments of Northern NSW including the North Coast, Tablelands, Slopes and Plains. Current crop research projects include soybean, triticale, barley, wheat, oat, chickpea and faba bean.
Plant breeding research is conducted through the non-GM Australian Soybean Breeding program. GPII is also a disease resistance evaluation node for potential new winter crop varieties in the National Variety Trial network of Australia.
The crop research team assists grain growers in the development and distribution of agronomy information via workshops, training, field days and publications.
The fisheries research team at GPII lead a range of projects impacting wild and recreational fish populations in northern NSW including:
The GPII fisheries team played an important role in conducting aquaculture research to help establish the aquaculture industry in NSW. Aquaculture facilities are still in place at GPII, although most of the aquaculture research in NSW is now centred at Narrandera and Port Stephens. The Grafton fisheries research team conduct research to conserve the endangered Eastern Freshwater Cod and are also assisting with a drought response to preserve wild fish populations in NSW.
The Institute has a team dedicated to investigating and researching solutions to problem weeds present in NSW. Previous work has concentrated on the Weedy Sporobolus grasses (WSGs) and has included a range of integrated control measures including chemical, grazing management and biological control, along with investigating the chemical control of Cabomba, a weed of national significance.
Current research work is focused on Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum) looking into the environmental conditions required for seed germination (temperature and moisture) and is planning on investigating the effects of shading on growth.
Researchers at GPII working on the biological control of Giant Parramatta grass (GPG) were one of the first to successfully use a local biological agent against an introduced grass. More than 10 years ago the Weedy Sporobolus grasses, of which GPG is the major type in NSW, were known to cover 450,000 hectares of Eastern Australia. The density of GPG in NSW is significantly reduced when compared to the statistics prior to the introduction of the biocontrol agent.
The Weeds team also includes a task-force focused on the increasing need to apply self-sustaining management technologies, by utilising non-herbicidal options due to an increasing incidence of herbicide resistance for many weed species in agricultural systems. Biological control of weeds is a cost effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable weed management option. Funding approval has been granted to upgrade the Grafton Primary Industries Institute Weed Biological Control Facilities, and to develop a purpose designed and built insectary to the value of $1.1 million.
The Invasive Species Biosecurity team oversee the implementation of the NSW Biosecurity Act (2015) in the North Coast, Hunter and Greater Sydney LLS regions Administer and facilitate the development of Regional Weed Action Projects in these regions. The team provides technical and policy advice to ensure over 170 state and regional priority weeds are managed effectively and the biosecurity risks they create for the communities, environment and the economy of NSW are minimised.
The success of the team is achieved by attending Regional Weed and Technical committee meetings, visiting Councils, running workshops and training events.
The team lead rapid responses to eliminate infestations of highly invasive weeds that are prohibited in NSW, such as black knapweed (found near Tenterfield in 2019) and frogbit (a water weed found in isolated areas around Greater Sydney and Hunter regions) before they take hold and spread to other areas.
The team partners with many agencies and Councils in the North Coast, Hunter and Sydney regions, including; Local Land Services, Local Councils, Nation Parks and Wildlife Service, QLD Biosecurity, Forestry Corporation, Landcare, NSW Farmers.
Recently upgraded beef cattle yarding facilities at GPII include an adjustable curved race and a pneumatic operation system and scanner. These facilities and the experienced Research Services staff at GPII form one node of a state-wide beef cattle multi-breed genomics project which commenced in July 2020. At GPII the research herd includes 500 Angus, Hereford and Brahman breeders.
The NSW DPI Agricultural Land Use Planning team that are based at GPII are a specialised team providing the cross over between agricultural industries and the planning framework. They maintain close industry, local and state government links, which ensures planning and agricultural advice is based on solid evidence and contemporary practice.
Team members are based in the regions and are focused on improving agricultural outcomes for NSW. They do this by influencing and working closely with consent authorities to provide sound advice and support and by developing policy and legislation to protect agricultural resources from a strategic perspective and to reduce opportunities for land use conflict before they arise.
This team provides services to industries involved in agricultural production to ensure that biosecurity risks are mitigated. Some key activities include:
The Forestry Corporation of NSW - Grafton Management Area, focuses on growing sustainably and managing profitably, and manages approximately 12,000ha of pine plantation geographically located on the north coast of NSW and QLD. The Forestry Corporation uses state of the art technology including drones for assessing forest areas and detecting fires, developing real time mapping systems, and implementing optimisation systems within harvest machines to maximise volume and value recovery from harvest operations. Approximately 130,000 tonnes of product are produced and sold annually within the Grafton Management Area, and the Unit partners with Universities, local councils and the Forest & Wood Products Association (FWPA).
The Forestry Corporation of NSW - Grafton Production Nursery, is responsible for the high volume production of forestry seedlings of both hardwood and softwood, specifically grown for plantation establishment in central and northern NSW. The Unit is reforesting 1000 hectares of NSW Forestry Corporation plantations across NSW per annum and houses state of the art production facilities with year-round growing conditions, with a production capacity of 5 million seedlings. Seedlings are grown from the best lines of germplasm with the best growth, form and vigour to produce strong, straight trees for the timber industry.