BAYER has opened its multi-million dollar wheat and oilseeds breeding centre near Horsham, Victoria.
The centre, one of seven flagship Bayer breeding hubs across the globe, will focus on breeding wheat and canola lines for use right across Australia.
Bayer already has two commercial canola lines available here and hopes to have wheat ready for release before the end of the decade or sooner.
Around 20 people will be employed at the centre, located at Longerenong College.
General manager of seeds with Bayer CropScience Australia, Rob Hall, said the centre would evaluate over 4000 wheat seed lines.
While the breeding hub will be located at Horsham, Bayer CropScience Australia general manager Jacqueline Applegate said there would be work done at sites across the nation.
“We’ve got a commitment to farmers right across the country,” she said.
Rick Turner, Bayer’s global head of wheat and oilseeds, said Bayer’s investment in breeding was part of a global push by the company to drag productivity higher.
In particular, he said Bayer was looking to boost wheat yields.
“There has been an under investment in wheat for a long time now in comparison to other crops such as corn and soybeans.
“We feel we can make similar genetic gains in wheat as we have seen in these other crops.”
The centre has involved $14 million in investment from Bayer and also the Victorian state government, who chipped in $1.24 million to upgrade roads and improve access to the new centre.
Bayer announced it was setting up the centre in 2012. It was attracted to the site because of its location in one of Australia’s major cropping zones and because of reliable water supplies in the area.
Dr Applegate said Bayer would be working closely with the adjacent college.
“We are delighted to see that enrolments at Longerenong College are at their highest levels for over a decade.
General manager of Longerenong College John Goldsmith said he was excited by having world-class facilities nearby.
“There is an air of excitement at the college about the opportunities this centre brings us.”