Newswise — The University of Adelaide, as part of an extensive collaboration with industry and the South Australian Government, will lead a new drought resilience hub in South Australia. Announced today, the hub will undertake research, development, extension, adoption and commercialisation activities to improve drought resilience and preparedness on SA farms.

The South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (SA Drought Hub), is one of eight in Australia established by the Australian Federal Government.

Dr Rhiannon Schilling, Affiliate Lecturer at the University of Adelaide led the SA Drought Hub application.

“The SA Drought Hub will consist of a network of 59 grower groups, the three SA-based universities, government agencies, indigenous partners, agribusinesses, RD&E partners and industry organisations. This demonstrates the support and willingness of partners to engage in our collaborative vision,” she said.

“The partners provide an extensive regional coverage of the state and bring together a diverse range of skillsets, perspectives and resources. Their significant support underlines the need for industry to work together towards a common goal of building future drought resilience in agriculture.”

Each of the eight national hubs will bring together research and expertise that will support and facilitate effective testing and scaling up of new solutions into commercialisation and adoption.

In 2020 around 70 per cent of the state and more than 4500 farming properties were affected by drought. Australian farmers face a wide range of risks, but they are particularly exposed to variability in climate.

The SA Drought Hub will receive $8 million of funding over four years from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, with an additional $11.47 million of cash and in-kind support from the hub’s partners.

A core site at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy campus will be complemented by five nodes located throughout regional South Australia at Minnipa, Port Augusta, Orroroo, Loxton and Struan. The nodes, which are located in pastoral, low, medium and high rainfall zones, will increase the adoption of drought resilience practices across the state.

The initial focus will be to co-design and deliver demand driven activities across the regional nodes to demonstrate and increase adoption of drought resilience practices, implement socially resilient and wellbeing strategies and leverage future investments for drought innovation and adoption initiatives.

“The nodes will be driven from the ground-up with drought resilience priorities established for each node based on input from regional partners,” said Dr Schilling

“These locations were strategically selected based on extensive consultation with partners and provide the best regional coverage and use of existing resources including AgTech farms and centres, which will enable maximum partner engagement.”

The five nodes and the University of Adelaide’s Waite and North Terrace campuses will be available for SA Drought Hub partners to use for collaborative project activities. 

“The University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute has a strong-track record of delivering outcomes that directly impact Australian and global agricultural industries,” said Professor Matthew Gilliham, Director of the Waite Research Institute.

“Our wide range of expertise in agriculture and food research that has resulted in increased resistance to drought events as well as pests, diseases and increasing soil salinity, while improving crop yields, will provide a strong foundation of expertise for the SA Drought Hub.

“The hub’s purpose will be to support our state’s primary producers to ensure our agricultural industries continue to grow even under conditions of drought. The University of Adelaide is delighted to lend its expertise and lead this important initiative that will link all industry sectors from grains, crops and livestock, to horticulture and viticulture, to provide broad resilience and innovation support across the state.”