Grower Group Alliance

New Drought Hub projects set to transform agricultural practices

Six 18-month transformational agricultural projects have commenced in Western Australia after grants worth $1 million were awarded by the South‐West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (SW WA Hub).

The SW WA Hub, led by the Grower Group Alliance and funded by the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund program, aims to improve the drought resilience and preparedness of local farmers and their communities, and foster agricultural innovation.

The SW WA Hub’s Transformational Program seeks to investigate new and emerging systems or significant modifications of current systems that lead to transformational change of agricultural practices to improve drought and climate resilience in WA.

SW WA Hub Director Mark Holland acknowledged transformational change has more complex barriers than those faced when making incremental changes.

“The size and complexity of the task to transform practices could mean individuals and communities are unlikely to act without support,” Mr Holland said.

“True transformational change can take years to develop and implement and can involve developing a range of capabilities and new knowledge through many stages.

“Given the project’s 18-month timeline, the SW WA Hub does not expect the final development of transformational products or solutions.

“Having said that, successful projects will develop new or additional knowledge, processes or capabilities in their areas of focus, fostering transformational change in agricultural systems.”

A total of 33 expressions of interest worth $6.1 million were submitted by Hub consortium partners and their collaborators and were reviewed by an independent panel.

SW WA Hub Knowledge Broker Tanya Kilminster explains that the successful projects have the potential for high impact outcomes.

“The projects clearly define a constraint to future production in the context of climate resilience, and the opportunity to overcome such a constraint to transform agriculture”, Ms Kilminster said.

“The projects align with the SW WA Hub’s drought resilience priorities, which were developed through a comprehensive and consultative process with the Hub’s Regional Nodes, farmers, grower groups, NRM groups, First Nations people, and industry experts.”

Each project is led by a SW WA Hub consortium partner and involves multiple partnerships and investors, including end users such as growers and grower groups.

In addition to the $1 million grant funding awarded by the SW WA Hub, collaborating organisations have contributed a further $1.6 million. These co-contributions will significantly increase the projects’ reach and impact.

The projects are investigating a diverse range of topics.

Murdoch University’s SMART SPRAYS project will test the use of biodegradable polymer sprays to improve water harvesting and water retention in cropping systems.

Farmanco will identify opportunities where renewable energy initiatives can enhance and complement existing farming businesses in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) will help WA farmers understand how Natural Capital might be valued as an asset class.

The Centre for People, Place, and Planet at Edith Cowan University (ECU) and Maaman Marra Boodjar will explore how First Nations knowledge can provide alternative ways to address current and future climate challenges in contemporary agricultural systems.

UWA’s Centre for Water and Spatial Science will explore methods for monitoring methane emissions from WA farm dams. This project will highlight the broader benefits of improving water quality for better livestock health and productivity, and more effective spray programs.

Whole Green Foods and the project’s lead will scale-up a manufacturing process to turn potato peel into a livestock feed. The technology will increase the bioavailability of ingredients, enhancing livestock productivity.

The projects are currently underway and will be completed by June 2025.

More information about the transformational projects is available on the SW WA Hub website: 

South‐West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub Director, Mark Holland, announces six new projects that will transform agricultural practices amidst a drying, warming climate.
The SW WA Hub’s transformational projects are investigating a diverse range of topics, including alternative land use in agricultural systems, understanding the emissions profile of farm dams, natural capital, water harvesting in rain-fed cropping systems, circular economy of agricultural waste streams, and first nations knowledge capacity to build climate resilience in contemporary agricultural systems. Photo: Centre for Water and Spatial Science graduate, Emily Kelly, collecting samples for The University of Western Australia’s project on monitoring methane emissions from WA farm dams.