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RIRDC Completed Projects in 2004-2005 & Research in Progress as at June 2005

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To New Plant Products Research in Progress
 
1.1 NEW PLANT PRODUCTS - COMPLETED PROJECTS
PROJECT NO.
PROJECT TITLE
RESEARCHER
PHONE
ORGANISATION

1. Native Foods

DAQ-295A Effects of post harvest handling, storage and processing on functional ingredients in native plant foods Mrs Janette McDonald (07) 3406 8643 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Qld)
PCB-2A Development of national structure for the native food industry Mr Gil Freeman (03) 5659 8238 Prom Country Bushfoods Association

3. Extractive and Fibre Crops

DAN-197A Olive harvesting project - harvest timing for optimal olive oil quality Dr Rod Mailer (02) 6938 1818 NSW Department of Primary Industries
DAQ-286A Evaluation of guar cultivars in central and southern Queensland Mr. Colin Douglas (07) 4992 9112 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Qld)
DEB-2A Evaluating olive water requirements from seedling to pre-fruit bearing Mr James De Barro (08) 8756 2777 De Barro Agricultural Consulting
SAR-47A National Olive Variety Assessment Project (NOVA) - Stage 2 Ms Susan Sweeney (08) 8303 9673 Department of Primary Industries and Resources SA
UQ-94A Evaluating new guayule varieties for low-allergenic rubber production Dr Doug George (07) 5460 1308 The University of Queensland
UWS-17A Sustainable pest and disease management in Australian olive production Prof Robert Spooner-Hart (02) 4570 1429 University of Western Sydney

4. Fruit, Vegetables and Nuts

CAU-1A Investigation into commercial systems for production of capers in Australia Mr Jonathon Trewartha (08) 8569 2360 The Australian Caper Company Pty Ltd
DAQ-288A Nutrition and phenology survey of durian and mangosteen orchards in north Queensland Mr. Yan Diczbalis (07) 4064 1128 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Qld)
DAQ-310A Building supply chain partnerships in developing tropical plant industries Mr. Chris Horsburgh (07) 4048 4683 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Qld)
DAQ-311A Better decisions for tropical exotic tree fruit production "Should I grow tropical exotics - rambutan, durian, mangosteen?" Dr. Patricia Chay-Prove (07) 4064 1130 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Qld)
DAV-212A Red bay berry - a new and exciting crop for Australia? Mr Graeme McGregor (03) 9210 9332 Department of Primary Industries (Vic)
TMB-2A Myrtus ugni berries: develop production protocols Dr. Jenny Jobling (02) 9490 8333 Tas Myrtus Berries Pty Ltd

5. Grains & Pulses

AMR-10A Gluten-free grains Mr Grant Vinning (07) 3378 0042 Asian Markets Research

6. Miscellaneous

UQ-104A Second Australian New Crops Conference Dr Rob Fletcher (07) 5460 1311 The University of Queensland
CUT-10A Energy viability of biomass to bio-fuel in broadacre farming regions Dr Hongwei Wu (08) 9266 1276 Curtin University of Technology

1. Native Foods
 
Project Title:  Effect of post harvest handling, storage and processing on functional ingredients in native plant foods
RIRDC Project No.: DAQ-295A
Researcher: Janette McDonald, Nola Caffin, Sarana Sommano and Ruth Cocksedge
Organisation: Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane and the University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane.
Phone: (07) 3239 6952 
Fax: (07) 3211 3293
Email:  janette.mcdonald@dpi.qld.gov.au ; n.caffin@uq.edu.au
Objectives ·1 To obtain chemical data on the post harvest stability of functional nutritional components in commercially available bush tomato, Kakadu plum, wild lime and wattleseed.
Background A literature survey on the functional food market as it pertained to native food plants indicated that little or no work had been published on this topic. 

Discussions with Robins Foods a processor incorporating semi processed native plant derived ingredients into retail food products, indicated that from a processing perspective the main issue facing manufacturers was the consistent quality of supply and the post harvest handling of the native fruits. A RIRDC report by C Graham and D Hart 1997indicated the importance for native food producers to meet mainstream food industry needs by providing native fruits and seeds in a form that could be readily used by food manufacturers and would therefore complete with conventional food ingredients in terms of ease of use and price. 

Research  To measure functional ingredients in selected native plants after (a) post harvest handling (milling in the case of bush tomato and freezing for kakadu plum ) (b) during storage (c) after further processing into retail products and (d) over the shelf life of the retail product as an indicator of stability after various condition typical of current practices. To determine the effect of small scale processing on functional ingredients in comparison to commercial processing. To make recommendation to the producers and processors where applicable to enhance ingredient quality and stability.
Outcomes  Native fruits used for retail products were analysed for bioactive components.

A shelf life study was conducted on two retail products made from bush tomato over 9 months. Although there was some initial increase in lycopene content, overall the results showed that no significant differences occurred during the trial.

Levels of vitamin C were measured in the fruit (available in the frozen state) and during the processing run for a Kakadu plum retail products Large losses of vitamin C occurred during extraction of the fruit and this was reflected in the final product.

Bush tomato sauce was produced on a small scale in the laboratory using similar conditions to commercial processing. The effect of heating was to increase the level of lycopene. This has previously been reported for lyocpene in other products and is thought to be due to isomerisation.

Implications  The project confirmed that for the native plant foods examined in this project, control of the quality attributes from harvest to storage to post harvest processing is essential. The project identified opportunities for industry investment to further improve and innovate along the supply chain, for the benefit of all stakeholders in this industry, including the indigenous communities.
Publications McDonald, J. (2004) Effects of postharvest handling, storage and processing on functional ingredients in native plant foods. Proceedings of the 37th Annual AIFST Convention, 25-28 July 2004 (Abstract and oral presentation) Brisbane Convention Centre.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Project Title: Development of national structure for the native food industry
RIRDC Project No.: PCB-2A
Researcher:  Mr Gil Freeman
Organisation: Prom Country Bushfoods Association
Phone: (03) 5659 8238
Fax: (03) 5659 8238
Email:  gilmem@dcsi.net.au
Objectives ·1 Establishment of a nationally based Australian native food industry steering group of about 8 persons drawn from a broad spectrum of the industry. The group’s main purpose is to initiate the formation of a nationally based organisation – a corporate entity which will be the native foods peak industry body (PIB). The group operates mainly by email and phone conferences, is preparing a draft constitution for the PIB and is also developing draft policies on national industry issues. The group is also acting as an industry contact for government departments and the industry as a whole pending the formation of the PIB. The steering group is providing guidance, as required, on the RIRDC Native Foods R&D Plan and on native food research proposals submitted to RIRDC.
Background Since the Brisbane based ANBIC Conference in 1996 the industry has been marked by a number of attempts to establish a PIB, each one failing to fully fulfil intentions. This initiative comes at a time when the industry is expanding rapidly, and there is a pressing need for native food enterprises to deal in a concerted way with food safety requirements and regulatory authorities, both here and overseas.
Research  The group has undertaken a number of research projects, including investigating the best models for the corporate structure for the new body; the naming of plants for native food products that could be adopted as industry standards; the standing of native food plants in the Codex Alimentaris and adoption of plants into the Codex as appropriate; and the provision of advice on food safety standards and quality production standards.
Outcomes  The group has been successfully established and seems to have been generally accepted by the industry as fulfilling a needed role. The group has met by phone 6 times and once in a face to face meeting. The group has established a draft constitution, a draft paper on the naming of plants, has a draft paper on food safety to put out to the industry, has been accepted by the relevant authorities as the appropriate interim body to provide advice on the Codex, and is currently meeting the work program in terms of content and timetable proposed at the outset. The group is also developing a data base of members of the industry to be used for communicating with the industry on developments to date of the steering group.
Implications  This body is fulfilling a much needed role as described above and is gradually coming to the notice of the industry. In the absence of any alternative it is being accepted as the appropriate body to initiate the development of the PIB and the drafting of policies which the PIB could adopt.
Publications All draft papers are being published for comment on the website http://www.clw.csiro.au/nativefoods/ The section on the website which deals with the steering group is being visited by members of the industry and the numbers visiting the website to view these papers has been steadily increasing since its inception.

3. EXTRACTIVE and FIBre crops
 
Project Title: Harvest timing for optimal olive oil quality
RIRDC Project No.: DAN-197A
Researcher:  Dr Rodney J. Mailer
Organisation: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute
Private Mail Bag
Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 
Phone: (02) 69381818
Fax: (02) 69381809
Email:  Rod.Mailer@agric.nsw.gov.au
Objectives ·2 To determine the precise harvest time for optimal olive oil quality through chemical, physical and organoleptic assessment of oil samples at progressive stages of fruit maturity.
Background Previous studies carried out at this Institute and others, have identified effects of harvest timing and variation in oil quality as a result of season, cultivar or crop management. With increasing production in Australia, and competition from low priced imported products, Australian growers need to develop skills to produce better quality oil than imported products and at competitive costs.
Research  Oil quality was assessed on three olive cultivars grown under three levels of irrigation over three years. Samples were assessed at six harvest times. Physical measurements of fruit firmness, colour and fruit detachment force were recorded to provide growers with methods of assessing optimum harvest times to achieve chemical and sensory quality and maximum oil recovery from cold-pressed olives.
Outcomes  Oil recovery was shown to increase to a maximum prior to the time that traditional tests such as fruit maturity index would indicate. Although oil content continued to increase with age, mature fruit became progressively harder to extract, therefore reducing the actual amount of oil extracted. Fruit quality changed dramatically over maturity with moisture, chlorophyll, tocopherols and saturated fatty acids reducing in proportion. In contrast, linoleic acid, free fatty acids, fruit size, weight and oil content increased with age. Polyphenols were closely related with oil stability with both decreasing. Changes in physical measurements together with oil and moisture content show some potential for use to indicate maturity.
Implications  These findings identify important changes in olives with maturity including improved oil yield but generally at the cost of reduced oil quality and shelf life stability. Organoleptic properties are also lost as the fruit matures. The information provided will allow growers to target particular quality attributes and harvest at times which optimise those characters. Better understanding of the effects of moisture may allow better targeted irrigation to produce improved oil quality. Physical measurements combined with fruit weight gains may provide the best indicators of optimum harvest timing. 
Publications Ayton, J., Mailer R.J. and Robards, K. 2001. Changes in oil content and composition of developing olives in a selection of Australian cultivars. Australian Journal of Experimental Agricultural. 41: 815-821.

Mailer, R.J. Ayton, J. and Conlan, D. 2002. Comparison and evaluation of the quality of thirty eight commercial Australian and New Zealand olive oils. Advances in Horticultural Sciences. (16)3-4: 259-256. 

Mailer, R.J., 2004. Chemical composition of Australian Olive Oil. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 45 (1), (in press).

Mailer, R.J., Ayton, J. and Conlan, D. The effects of harvest timing on oil quality and stability. Euro Fed Lipids Congress, 5-8 September, 2004. Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Ayton J, Mailer RJ and Conlan D. Importance of harvest timing to stability of olive oil. 4th Annual Olive Harvest Workshop, 9th-10th September 2004, Rylstone NSW.


 
 
Project Title: Evaluation of guar cultivars in central and southern Queensland
RIRDC Project No.: DAQ-286A
Researcher:  Col Douglas
Organisation: Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
Phone: (07) 4992 9112
Fax: (07) 4992 3468
Email:  col.douglas@dpi.qld.gov.au
Objectives ·3 To identify and release a new guar cultivar by 2003 that is suitable for commercial production in central and southern Queensland.
Background Guar (Cyamposis tetragonoloba) is a summer growing legume from India that grows well in the hot, dry summers of northern Australia. A vegetable gum extracted from the grain is a valued product in industrial manufacturing and food processing. World demand for guar gum is increasing; as such guar has potential to open up new markets for the Australian grains industry. As a summer legume guar will provide significant benefits to dryland farming systems in northern Australia.
Research  Regenerate seed of 450 guar accessions in Tropical Crops and Pastures Genetic Resource Collection at DPI&F Research Station, Biloela

Conduct agronomic evaluation trials at two key sites (central and south western Queensland) over three years (2001/02 –2003/4) to identify lines that are high yielding, have high galactomannan content, low incidence of seed weathering, are determinate with erect plant type, low degree of lodging and pods at mechanically harvestable height

Facilitate grower information exchange with field days at DPI&F trials in conjunction with Australian Gum Products

Produce CropLink information pamphlet in 2002/03 describing agronomic and marketing aspects of guar

Outcomes  Identified two elite cultivars with good agronomic performance and grain yield 30% higher than current commercial cultivar. Seed of these lines will be increased at Biloela in 2004/05

Seed quality testing revealed no differences in galactomannan content of grain from elite cultivars

Implications  Two new cultivars of guar have been identified that offer higher yield and improved harvestability over the current commercial cultivar. Stakeholders in the guar industry must address larger-scale on-farm testing, seed multiplication and distribution of new cultivars.

Agronomic and environmental factors affecting gum quality in guar need further attention

Publications Douglas C.A. and Lawrence P.K. 2004. Guar a non-food crop for northern Australia. Proceedings 2nd Australian New Crops Conference, 20-24th September 2004, (Poster and Abstract). University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Qld, Australia.

Douglas C.A. and Routely R. (1998). Guar pp.206-209 New Crop Industries Handbook (Chapter). Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia


 
 
 
 
Project Title: Evaluating olive water requirements from seedling to pre-fruit bearing
RIRDC Project No.: DEB-2A
Researcher:  James De Barro
Organisation: De Barro Agricultural Consulting
Phone: 0417 946 053
Fax: (08) 87553422
Email:  dbac@lm.net.au
Objectives ·4 Quantify the water requirements of olives from planting to pre-fruit bearing and the development of the effective root zone depth to eliminate excess irrigation. Knowledge of the water requirements will permit sustainable and efficient water use. The research will estimate the rate of development of the root zone and the depth of root zone water extraction. Reduction of over irrigation would assist in minimising losses of nutrition beyond the olive root zone as well as conserving water. The olive industry will be able to promote the results of the research to community and government authorities and exhibit that olive growers have the information to irrigate their olives based on the known requirements of the trees and hence are managing the available water source in an ecologically sustainable manner.

·5 The research results will be published to compliment the existing information regarding the water requirements of established olive trees. The results will be available for irrigated olive growers to benchmark their current irrigation applications on olives from planting up until their initial harvest. Determination of crop factors (Kc values) for use in water use calculations involving modeling of evapotranspiration with such models as the modified Penman Monteith model would be calculated for use in irrigation scheduling.

Background The increase in value of olive production to the Australian economy delineates itself as a commodity that requires research designed to improve yields; grower returns and, being an intensive high input horticultural crop, develop sustainable practices that are environmentally acceptable. The rapid expansion of the Australian industry continues to reveal inadequacies in technical information necessary for efficient and sustainable production. This sentiment is outlined in the Australian Olive Industry’s Research and Development Plan 2003-2008, managed by RIRDC. As suggested in 2000 when this research commenced, sustainable irrigation strategies that minimize water use but maintain yield and quality are still important priorities for the Australian Olive Industry in 2005 and beyond.

Australian and overseas literature reviewed does not specifically explain the water requirements of young olives from planting to fruit bearing age. Commercial olive production requires irrigation across the spring and summer seasons. In southern Australia irrigation is used in commercial orchards utilising various methods including overhead and micro sprinkler systems. Water requirements of young olive trees in the period up to the first harvest have not been quantified and there is currently reliance on loose "rules of thumb", speculation and utilising research results determined in other continents. To date, young trees are irrigated and nursed at any cost until they bear fruit. As water is a precious and limited resource it should be supplied to any crop on the basis of understanding the crop requirements hence improving the efficiency of the irrigation system.

Research  The research site was positioned at Weeroona Park, Weeroona Pastoral Company (36o 04.357' S & 140o 29.974' E) and 60 m above sea level. The trellised grove was designed in 8m x 5m spacings with 250 trees/ha. Irrigation was supplied by IrritrolR Waterbird V1-PC Olive sprinklers. 18 month old olives (var. Manzanello) were planted in September 2000 with the research focusing on two distinctly different soil types. One site was positioned on a deep "gutless" sandhill (15 m deep sand over clay) and the other site was on clay loam with minimal sand. Each site involved the monitoring of a single tree with the two trees being located in the same row than transgressed the sand rise and the clay flat. Two trees in a row adjacent to the research row and opposite the research trees had their growth monitored as per the research trees with the only difference being that the research trees were irrigated on the basis of soil moisture monitoring whereas the comparison trees were irrigated as per the commercial grove management practices. Periodic tree measurements were conducted on the research and commercial trees. Measurements included height, stem circumference and canopy. On 21 May 2004 the first commercial harvest occurred and the yield of the research and commercial rows (hill and flat sections) were separately recorded to permit determination of yield per tree. This was compared to the average Manzanello yield from the grove. Harvest was done mechanically by a grape harvester. Applied water volumes for all trees was recorded throughout the duration of the project.
Outcomes  An interesting aspect of the results is that regardless of the trees being grown on deep sand or clay the total water received by the research trees per irrigation season was almost the same. The trees were supplied with irrigation that met their water use demands and the data indicates that an olive tree uses a set amount of water per season which is related to their growth stage and that the frequency of irrigation and volumes applied per irrigation vary only on the soil moisture holding capacity of the root zone and the weather driving plant water use. Not a surprising result given that crop and tree water requirements can be studied and modelled to assist in irrigation scheduling and studies of crop physiology. The research determined that young, growing olive trees require amounts of water through the spring, summer and early autumn period that are the same regardless of soil type. The comparison with the commercial trees in 02/03 and 03/04 highlights the negligible return for irrigating over this necessary volume in conjunction with effective rainfall. This extra water was irrigated water and ranged between 0.4-0.5 ML/ha in 02/03 and 1.0-1.3 ML/ha in 03/04. From the tree growth data it can be strongly suggested that this extra water applied per hectare wasted water, fertiliser and fuel/electricity and also added extra ‘wear and tear’ to pumps and infrastructure. The estimated Kc values of 0.13 to 0.34 follow the progression of tree development and correlate well with other research calculating mature olives having Kc values of 0.65-0.7. These Kc values for young olives can confidently be used in calculating water requirements anywhere they are grown.
Implications  An implication of the research results is that olives grown on varying soil types ranging from deep ‘gutless’ sand to high clay content use the same amount of water through the year to undergo seasonal growth and production from planting through to the first commercial harvest. The timing and quantity of delivery of the irrigation requirement in relation to the effective rainfall received is dependent on the irrigator’s management and soil moisture monitoring can assist in determining both. 

It is suggested that over irrigation is common in young olive orchards and this is wasting both water and energy resources as well as increasing the irrigation structure workload. The indication of the research findings is that more olives could be irrigated due to over irrigation of the current grove, but an increase in grove size would be dependent on the predicted volumes required for established trees. Irrigators need to compare their irrigation applications to those recorded in this research and assess whether there is scope to reduce their irrigation output with no reduction in olive production. The great temptation with irrigation, and especially fine tuned irrigation delivery such as drippers and micro sprinklers is to over water due to the ease of watering and the desire to "make sure" all the effort and financing of the grove is rewarded with healthy, growing trees at the end of each irrigation season. Irrigators need to consider monitoring their soil water and the depth of olive water use and irrigate as required rather than using the calendar to time irrigation applications.

Publications From planting to harvest: A study of olive water requirements from planting to first commercial harvest. RIRDC Publication No 04/…

 
 
Project Title National Olive Variety Assessment Project (NOVA) Stage II
RIRDC Project No.: SAR-47A
Researcher:  Ms Susan Sweeney
Organisation: Primary Industries and Resources South Australia
Phone: (08) 830 39673
Fax: (08) 8303 9424
Email: sweeney.susan@saugov.sa.gov.au
Objectives To deliver informed and skilled olive orchard management through provision of: ·1 A nationally coordinated technical and educational support network.

·2 Comparative physiological information on the performance of all known olive varieties in Australia.

·3 Survival, growth and management information from a range of olive varieties across a range of climatic/edaphic conditions in Australia.

Background
 
 
 
 

Outcomes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Implications

The 2004 survey of olive varieties from properties across Australia and the evaluation of varieties at the National Olive Collection site at Roseworthy, SA are currently being statistically analysed and compared against the previous 2 years of data. 2003/04 was an unusually cool season at Roseworthy and most of the varieties were a few weeks later than normal in flowering and ripening. The following are some early highlights from Roseworthy.

Flowering: Consistently early flowering varieties (full bloom late October – early November) include: Coratina, Group I (Marcocarpa, Pendulina, Polymorpha), Group VI (Frantago, Oblonga), UC13A6, Amelon, Barouni, Californian Mission, Nevadillo Blanco, Oblitza, Arbequina, Agro Rubens, Atroviolacea Brun Ribier, Columella, Gordal Sevillana, Group IV (Blanquette, Rubra Baillon D’Aise), Manzanilla de Sevilla, Ascolano, Azapa, Barnea, Early Blanquette, Large Pickling, Pendolino, Picual, SA Verdale. Consistently late flowering varieties (full bloom mid November) include: Pigale, Areccuzo, Dr Fiasci, Kalamata, Manaiki and Rouget.

Ripening: Fruit at Roseworthy were harvested at a Maturity Index of 3 (green skin with reddish spots covering more than 50% of the fruit). Consistently early ripening varieties (Maturity Index = 3 by mid April) include: UC13A6, Group I, Pendolino and Leccino. Consistently late ripening varieties (Maturity Index = 3) by early June or later include: Kalamata, Oblitza, Jumbo Kalamata, Rouget, Azapa, Verdale Aglandau, Manaiki, Large Pickling, Columella, Atro Rubens and Coratina.

Yields: The highest yielding trees at Roseworthy from 2002-2004 in terms of fruit weight include: Picual, UC13A6, Barnea, Hojiblanca, Arbequina, Manzanilla de Sevilla, SA Verdale and Jumbo Kalamata.

Oil Chemistry: The ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids is considered a measure of oil stability or shelf life. Some varieties with high ratios and therefore potentially high shelf lives include: Blackwood Black Italian, Group IV, Group V (Borregiola, Gaeta, Longue de Ascoli, Morihioso, Blackwood Picholine), Leccino, Koroneiki, Group VI, Manzanilla de Sevilla and Picual.

This project will greatly increase the understanding of olive varietal performance in Australia. Growers will have greater confidence in choosing olive varieties to suit their particular requirements.


 
 
 
 
Project Title: Evaluating new guayule varieties for low-allergenic rubber production
RIRDC Project No.: UQ-94A
Researcher:  Dr Doug George (Chief Investigator) and Dr Madan Gupta 
Organisation: School of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Queensland 4343
Phone: (07) 54 601 308
Fax: (07) 54 601 367
Email:  d.george@uq.edu.au
Objectives ?1 To evaluate new improved guayule germplasm from the USA in Queensland; 

?2 To establish a direct seeding method; 

?3 To establish a seed multiplication program;

·4 To carry out an economic analysis based on field data and to make recommendations on the guayule industry in Australia

Background Guayule is a semi-arid plant with commercial potential for Australian conditions. It produces high quality rubber similar to Hevea but is superior due to its low-allergenic properties which are required for latex sensitive people. Research towards commercialization in the USA has been successful in developing high yielding lines which had not been evaluated in Australia. Establishment by direct seeding also needed to be addressed to reduce production costs.
Research Research focused on three main areas since 2001: ·1 Evaluation of new lines from the USA at Gatton and Chinchilla in Queensland

·2 Detailed seed dormancy studies to assist in improving establishment

·3 Direct seeding studies to reduce production costs involved in transplanting.

Outcomes Germplasm evaluation All new lines performed better than the old lines with AZ-1 and AZ-2 producing significantly higher rubber and resin yields at both locations. In the second year (17 months) at Gatton, AZ-1 and AZ-2 produced 48% to 59% rubber yield increase over the old lines while in the third year (33 months) at Chinchilla, the rubber yield increases were between 70% to 89%. Some of the new lines showed considerable variability for biomass production.

Direct field seeding Good establishment was achieved using osmo-conditioned seed (polyethylene glycol) and precision planting. This required high quality seed, a fine seedbed, adequate soil moisture at least for the first three weeks and reliable weed control. 

Studies on seed dormancy Studies revealed that the balance of growth promoter and inhibitors regulated seed dormancy of guayule. The seed coat contains inhibitors that affect this balance. It was found that light requirement in germination can totally be replaced by treating with gibberellins and gibberellin controlled germination in guayule is mediated through phytochrome.

Implications ·1 Of the new lines, AZ-1 and AZ-2 with significantly improved rubber yields are the most promising for commercialisation; they can be first harvested in two years under high yield conditions and in three years where rainfall is lower

·2 Potential exists for further selection for increased biomass (and increased rubber yields) in some of the new lines

·3 Results from direct seeding trials together with knowledge of methods to overcome seed dormancy will aid in improving establishment in the field; this will significantly reduce costs and improve the commercial potential of guayule. Further trials are needed to optimise establishment under direct seeding for dryland conditions.

Publications A poster paper 'New lines raise the commercial potential of guayule', 4th International Crop Science Congress, 26 September to 1st October 2004, Brisbane.

A poster 'Overcoming seed dormancy in guayule with gibberellic acid', 8th International Workshop on Seeds, 8 - 13 May 2005, Brisbane.


 
 
 
 
Project Title: Sustainable pest and disease management in Australian olive production
RIRDC Project No.: UWS-17A
Researcher:  Assoc. Prof. Robert Spooner-Hart
Organisation: Centre for Horticulture & Plant Sciences
University of Western Sydney
Phone: (02) 4570 1429
Fax: (02) 4570 1103
Email:  r.spooner-hart@uws.edu.au
Objectives The objectives of this project were to provide growers with a clear picture of the pest and disease complex in Australian olive ecosystems and an increased understanding of sustainable approaches to their control. These objectives were to be achieved by the following: ·1 Surveying districts throughout Australia for incidence and severity of olive pests and their impact on production.

·2 Developing and undertaking field monitoring systems for key pests and diseases.

·3 Conducting workshops on pest and disease recognition, monitoring and sustainable management.

Background Pests and diseases are commonly key constraints to viable and sustainable agricultural production. Their control has historically relied on the use of synthetic pesticides, which poses problems for human health and the environment. The development of more environmentally-acceptable methods such as integrated pest management in many industries has reduced reliance on synthetic pesticides, with accompanying benefits. For successful implementation this approach, education of industry participants, particularly growers and consultants is paramount.

Although the Australian olive industry is 150 years old, recent rapid industry expansion has led to increased problems with pests and diseases not previously encountered. At the commencement of this project, although a number of olive pests and diseases were known to be present, Australia appeared to be free of several key problem species. However, no systematic study of the olive pest and disease complex in Australia had been undertaken. By comparison research, development and extension in sustainable pest and disease management is more advanced in many other olive-producing countries. Additionally, most Australian agricultural and horticultural industries have well-developed integrated pest and disease management programs.

Research  The project team was comprised of entomologists and plant pathologists, supported by olive industry development personnel. We initially conducted a national industry survey in late 2001-early 2002 to assess growers’ views of olive pests and diseases and their management. We then conducted a series of workshops in all mainland states, on olive pest and diseases, and sustainable strategies for their management. 

To monitor olive pest and disease incidence in the field, we undertook two activities: diagnosis of samples of possible diseases or disorders, and a two-season pest and disease monitoring program in eight representative groves selected from across the olive growing areas of Australia. 

Our investigations confirmed that black scale was the industry’s most widespread pest, so we subsequently conducted investigations on its sustainable management with several releases of a parasitic wasp for biological control, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of a petroleum oil spray.

Outcomes  We recorded a number of pests and diseases on Australian olives for the first time, and were able to more accurately determine the status and distribution of those already known to be present. 

Our field monitoring also recorded a number of beneficial species present in groves, especially parasites of scale insects, although we were unable to accurately determine their significance in pest control. 

Our black scale trials showed that this pest can be effectively controlled by oil sprays, and suggested that release of predatory wasps may also be a useful management strategy. 

The industry survey and our other contacts with growers demonstrated their interest in minimising pesticide use in olive production.

Implications  This project has commenced what should be an on-going industry activity of pest and disease research and development. This is particularly important as the industry develops into full production. 

The different pest and disease complexes we recorded suggest that monitoring and management programs may need to be adapted for particular regions. Tree observations and yellow sticky traps appear to be effective in assessing most olive pests and diseases.

Some growers are still incorrectly diagnosing pests and diseases. This could be redressed by the publication of a field guide, utilising images collected during the project.

Publications Botha J, Poole M, Taylor D, Hardie D, Spooner-Hart R (2002) Olive lace bug Froggattiaolivinia (Hemiptera: Tingidae) Farmnote No 050/2002 Department of Agriculture WA, Australia.

Cannard M, Spooner-Hart R, Beattie G (2004). Olive lace bug, Froggattia olivinia (Hemiptera: Tingidae)- an Australian native pest of cultivated olives. International Congress of Entomology. August 2004 Brisbane, Qld, Australia. 

Huda A, Spooner-Hart R, Nair N (2004). Using climate information to screen disease risk of olive growing areas in Australia. International Plant Pathology Congress, January 2004, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sergeeva V, Tesoriero L, Spooner-Hart R, Nair N (2005). First report of Macrophomina phaseoli (Tassi) Goid. on olive (Olea europea L.) in Australia. Australasian Plant Pathology (in press).

Spooner-Hart R (2002). Progress towards sustainable and organic pest and disease production in Australian olive production. AOA 2002 National Olive Industry Conference, September 2002, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

Spooner-Hart R (2004) Sustainable pest management. 4th Annual Olive Harvest Workshop, September 2004. Rylstone NSW, Australia 119-127.

Spooner-Hart R (2004) Sustainable pest and disease management in Australian olive production: A research update. AOA 2004 National Olive Industry Conference October 2004, Perth, WA, Australia

Spooner-Hart R, Tesoriero L, Hall B, Page F, Learmonth S, Conlan D (2002) Progress towards pest and disease management in Australian olive production. Advances in Horticultural Science 16:3-4 218-224.

Spooner-Hart R, Page F, Learmonth S (2004). Arthropod pests of olives. International Congress of Entomology. August 2004. Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

Tesoriero L (2004) Diseases and disorders of olives in eastern Australia. 4th Annual Olive Harvest Workshop, September 2004. Rylstone NSW, Australia 128-131.

   

 

4. FRUIT, VEGETABLES AND NUTS
 
Project Title: Investigation into commercial systems for production of capers in Australia
RIRDC Project No.: CAU-1A
Researcher:  Jonathon Trewartha
Organisation: Australian Capers Pty. Ltd.
P.O. Box 316, Mannum, S.A., 5238
Phone: 0414 9891 07
Fax: (08) 8569 2360
Email:  enquiries@australiancapers.com.au
Objectives ·1 To develop production systems for capers, a new crop to Australia, in a pilot development near Mannum, South Australia. The project aimed to conduct field trials over the first three years of growth to answer simple questions about; varieties, phenology, plant growth, and yield under Australian conditions and specific production systems.
Background The caper is a native of the Mediterranean region and prior to this research there were no capers grown commercially in Australia and all caper products were imported. The wholesale value of the capers sold by wholesale is estimated to be around five million dollars annually and with Australian diets trending towards Mediterranean foods the market is firmly established and growing. Capers offer opportunities as an alternative commercial crop in Australia as they produce a high value product and plants grow in poor nutrient soils, handle very high salinity, appear drought resistant, and kangaroos & rabbits appear not to be attracted to them.
Research  Progress to date includes successful propagation of caper plants using seed and cuttings, a good practical understanding of establishment practice, water and fertiliser requirements, pests and diseases and organic production methods, a trial of different pruning, processing and trellising techniques and an understanding of caper processing and caper products.
Outcomes  Significant outcomes include the identification of the main financial risks to the establishment of a successful Australian Caper Industry including maintaining premium price, harvesting cost, pests & disease, quality control, market size & marketing and over zealous planting exceeding the market. Potential grower interest in the project is high with many requests for information through the website "www.australiancapers.com.au". Initial product trials were successful and have been well received in the marketplace.

Additional assistance from RIRDC to focus on Market Research, the building of a sorting machine and continued horticultural support has been approved.

Implications  Research would indicate that capers can be economically grown in Australia. Trials produced sufficient capers to allow research of Australian caper products to be undertaken in the Australian marketplace. Outcomes have formed a basis for a three year Research and Development Strategy in line with a Business Plan.
Publications N/A

 
 
Project Title: Nutrition and phenology survey of durian and mangosteen orchards in north Queensland
RIRDC Project No.: DAQ-288A
Researcher:  Yan Diczbalis
Organisation: Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries
Phone: (07)-40641128
Fax: (07)-40642249
Email:  yan.diczbalis@dpi.qld.gov.au
Objectives ·1 Develop recommendations for a standard leaf sampling technique based on coefficient of variation of samples

·2 Develop leaf and soil nutrient recommendations for durian and mangosteen grown in the wet tropics of north Queensland

·3 Test for a relationship between tree nutrient status and productivity

·4 Improve understanding of the effects of micro-climate within north Queensland on tree phenology

·5 Develop industry awareness of the relationship between fertiliser inputs, tree nutrient status, tree phenology and yield.

Background The Australian durian and mangosteen industries are currently estimated to be valued at $0.5 M/annum and $0.6M/annum respectively. Current tree number, age and production statistics suggest that by 2010 these industries could achieve a value well in excess of current production levels. Soil and plant nutrition plays a vital role in the productivity of tree crops, however, the interaction between nutrient levels and productivity is poorly understood in durian and mangosteen. Recommended plant nutrient levels exist in Thailand and Malaysia. The information gained from a survey of nutrition levels in productive and non-productive orchards will enhance the industry understanding of nutrition and improve the economics of production. Improved efficiency of nutrition management also has longer term environmental benefits, an issue which is particularly important to the wet tropics.
Research  The optimum sampling time for leaf nutrient analysis was identified for both durian and mangosteen. Tentative nutrient standards were developed for both crops. Mean industry yields and fertilizer inputs were documented.
Outcomes  Cooperating growers have been personally updated on their orchard nutrient levels and are able to compare their levels with industry means. Findings to date have been published in the industry newsletter. The concept of fertilizer budgets have been proposed as a way of managing nutrient inputs for durian and mangosteen where flowering, fruit and subsequent yield are highly weather dependent.
Implications  This project has demonstrated that there is not a strong relationship between fertilizer inputs and yields. The nutrient budget approach to fertilizer management offers a sustainable method of managing the nutrient requirements of these tropical trees.
Publications Final Report

 
Project Title: Building Supply Chain Partnerships in Developing Tropical Plant Industries
RIRDC Project No.: DAQ-310A
Researcher:  Chris Horsburgh and Judy Noller
Organisation: Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
Phone: (07) 4048 4600
Fax: (07) 4092 3593
Email:  chris.horsburgh@dpi.qld.gov.au

judy.noller@dpi.qld.gov.au

Objectives ·1 To determine whether exotic tropical fruits and vegetables can be successfully marketed as a category of products, rather than as individual commodities.
Background An exotic crop review workshop held at South Johnstone on 12-13 February 2003 (RIRDC project DAQ-306A) identified the need to explore innovative and collaborative approaches to market development for exotic fruits and vegetables, given the limited industry resources available for market development activities.
Research Supply chain readiness and category marketing potential was investigated for eleven emerging exotic tropical fruit and vegetable crops. The concept of category marketing was explored and relevant strategies for exotic crops identified. A commercial trial of one category strategy was carried out.
Outcomes Two main commercial category marketing opportunities for exotic tropical fruit were identified. These were firstly, for a retail point-of-sale display stand for these and other tropical fruits and secondly, for specialty fruit baskets of these fruits. No strategies for an exotic tropical vegetable category could be developed within the scope of this project. However, the vegetable crops under consideration were already included in the Asian vegetables category. Industry interest in the project is high with subsequent commercialisation of these strategies being pursued through industry associations.
Implications The project has shown that the crops under consideration are likely to increase their market development potential in the Australian mass-market by leveraging the category marketing potential that exists. 

 
 
Project Title: Better decisions for tropical exotic tree fruit production "Should I grow tropical exotics – rambutan, durian, mangosteen"?
RIRDC Project No.: DAQ-311A
Researcher:  Patricia Chay and Yan Diczbalis
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
PO Box 20
South Johnstone QLD 4859
Phone: (07) 4064 1130
Fax: (07) 4064 2249
Email:  patricia.chay@dpi.qld.gov.au and yan.diczbalis@dpi.qld.gov.au
Objectives ·2 To produce a user-centred information resource for the successful production of tropical tree fruit crops – durian, mangosteen and rambutan.
Background There is paucity of literature on various production aspects, economics of production and other issues on tropical exotic tree fruits production. These tree crops have a limited commercial history in Australia and little detailed agronomic, economic and marketing work has been undertaken here or overseas. This is slowly changing, with input from federal R&D, state governments and industries.
Research  Documentation of existing technical information and knowledge on the factors impacting successful and sustainable production of rambutan, durian and mangosteen into a resource kit. This can help new growers and growers analyse and respond to production issues and challenges and most importantly, meet the consumers’ buying specifications. It can also assist outside investors in helping them make decisions by providing essential costs and returns for production and provide information to assist outside entrance into a new industry.
Outcomes  A comprehensive and user-friendly growing information resource for the tropical exotics – rambutan, durian and mangosteen. The concept is built around several important principles, focussing on core information that is most needed in the efficient and economic production of these tropical tree fruits.
Implications  An improved understanding and knowledge about tree care, nutrition, management, irrigation, etc on productivity and profitability will lead to improvements in productivity and efficiencies in farm management practices; Australian tropical exotic fruit growers gaining experience and improving production and marketing knowledge and; current and future research and development assumed to improve the knowledge base and assisting industry to improve.
Publications Tropical fruits – durian, mangosteen, rambutan grower’s guide

Tropical fruits - Problem solver


 
 
Project Title: Red bayberry – an exciting new crop for Australia?
RIRDC Project No.: DAV-212A
Researcher:  Professor Daryl Joyce
Organisation: University of Queensland, Gatton
Phone: (03) 9210 9332
Fax: (03) 9800 3521
Email:  graeme.mcgregor@nre.vic.gov.au
Objectives ·3 To investigate the possibility of commercial production of Red bayberry in Australia; to assess climatic requirements, and identify likely production regions in Australia, and to encourage development of collaborative marketing structures.
Background Production of Red bayberry (Yang Mei) is expanding in China, and presents a unique opportunity for collaborative development of markets through alliances with Australian producers. This report examines horticultural and postharvest practices and climatic requirements, and recommends areas of Australia where red bayberry production is most likely to succeed.
Research  The potential for red bayberry production in Australia was assessed by (1) a literature review, (2) by visiting red bayberry production areas in China , (3) climatic modelling, and (4) by assessment of likely Australian production areas by Chinese researchers expert in the red bayberry crop.
Outcomes  The management of red bayberry trees in their native environment is simple; much of current production is harvested from semi-wild trees. They prefer infertile hillsides to fertile flat land, and a nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbiont reduces the need for nitrogen fertiliser. The fruit must be harvested at their optimal eating quality, which severely limits postharvest shelf life. There is considerable research under way in China to improve cultivars, production techniques and postharvest management. Climatic analysis suggests that likely Australian production areas are Nambour, Alstonville, Innisfail and Darwin. The horticultural success of red bayberry trees in Australian soils has yet to be demonstrated, however trees grown from seeds imported through this project are growing well in both Victoria and Queensland.
Implications  The authors are confident that red bayberry trees can be grown successfully in Australia. Successful production of quality fruit is likely, given the close match of key climatic variables between production areas in China and selected Australian sites. Further, microclimatic manipulation can overcome temperature and humidity shortcomings. Postharvest handling presents challenges, but similar difficulties are managed in the Australian berry industries.

Red bayberry presents a unique opportunity for collaborative marketing; as the crop represents a "clean slate" which can potentially be developed to fit a range of marketing strategies. Given that trees of selected cultivars must be produced from imported germplasm, a natural mechanism exists to manage Australian fruit production through control of nursery tree production.

Publications Joyce, D.C., and Li, J.R., Postharvest characteristics of red bayberry. pp. 125-226. Proceedings of the Australasian Postharvest Horticulture Conference, 2003. 1st-3rd October, 2003, Carlton Crest Hotel, Brisbane, Australia. (IBSN 0-646-43074-2), 2003.

 
Project Title: Myrtus ugni berries: develop production protocols
RIRDC Project No.: TMB-2A
Researcher:  Michael Forbes-Smith
Organisation: Sydney Postharvest Laboratory
Phone: (02) 9490 8443
Fax: (02) 9490 8499
Email:  michaelfs@postharvest.com.au
Objectives ·4 To gain a firm knowledge base for successfully growing and supplying the fruit of Myrtus ugni to the world. Specific aims are to observe/explore current strategies for the successful marketing of berry fruits in Australia; to explore pest control management options; to test harvesting, packaging and storage strategies.
Background Myrtus ugni, also known as Chilean guava, is native to Chile where the populace has long appreciated the fruit (berry) for its delicious flavour. Tas Myrtus Berries Pty Ltd (TMB) has recently started to commercialise M. ugni berries (Tazziberry®) in Tasmania. However, due to the lack of commercial operating experience in the world (in Chile, harvesting from wild bushes is still practiced), research into growing, storage and transport, as well as proper promotion in target markets, is crucial to ensure success of this new berry industry in Australia.
Research Strategies used to promote successful marketing of Tazziberry® in Australia included:

- Managing growers meetings and presenting information pertaining to food standards, compliance costs and quality assurance for fresh berries and value adding.

- Promotional activities at Food Festivals, functions and restaurants. 

- Exploring the viability of value added products through established food businesses.

Close spacing of M. ugni shrubs at some Tasmanian farms suggested a need for pest control. Preliminary studies were conducted to distinguish pests of M. ugni.

Temperature management and packaging are important factors affecting the quality of fresh berries. In this study, the optimum storage temperature and the relationship between temperature and shelf-life were determined. Systems using a range of packaging materials and storage atmospheres were also evaluated to ensure the berry reliably reaches its target markets in peak condition. Other work included sensory and nutritional analyses of harvested berries.

Outcomes Growers meetings lead to the initiation of a Southern Growers Collaborative Group. Further regional grower groups are currently forming. Promotional activities conducted at Food Fairs etc contributed to expand fresh berry sales in the Tasmanian tourism and hospitality markets, as well as certain wholesale markets in Melbourne. The venture to explore value added products with food businesses was extremely beneficial - selected commercial value-added products are expected in the near future.

Inspection for pests indicated minor issues with aphids and grasshoppers, and birds. Further work is required to identify and characterise pests of M. ugni.

Cold storage at 0ºC significantly increased the shelf-life of M. ugni berries. The main factors of quality loss included weight (water) loss and development of rots, followed by discolouration of the berry skin and calyx leaves. Modified atmosphere/high CO2 was undoubtedly the most beneficial treatment to ensure berry quality for the market, although treatment with sanitisers or berries packed in punnets with absorbent pads reduced rots. This information together with data from the sensory and nutritional analyses will help to ensure marketing success of Tazziberry® in Australia. 

Implications The key to develop strong market connections for M. ugni berries in Australia and overseas lies on the ability to consistently deliver a desired product quality. Deliverables from this project (improved marketing and postharvest management, value adding through product development, sensory and nutritional particulars, and pest recognition during growth) have all contributed to sustain this objective and minimise the risk of failure by growers in Tasmania and TMB.
Publications None as yet

5. Grains & Pulses
 
Project Title:  Gluten-free Grains
RIRDC Project No.: AMR-10A
Researcher:  Grant Vinning and Gregory McMahon
Organisation: Asian Markets Research
Phone: (07) 3378 0042
Fax: (07) 3378 0042
Email:  Grant.vinning@amresearch.com.au
Objectives ·5 To analyse the market prospects for a number of grains that are or could be grown in Australia specifically for the gluten-free food market. The nominated grains are amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sesame, sorghum and teff.
Background Gluten-free foods are needed by sufferers of coeliac disease, an illness characterised by the inability to digest gluten. Gluten-free diets are also being recommended for people other than coeliacs. It is estimated that the market in Australia for gluten-free products amounts to about one million consumers. This demand is exhibiting strong growth
Research The scope of investigations included interviews with coeliacs and their associations, growers, importers, exporters, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of gluten-free foods and grains in seven countries – Australia, Ireland, England, United States, Canada, France and Switzerland. Stores, both specialist health shops / pharmacies and also general food supermarkets were visited in all countries surveyed.
Outcomes Current high growth in demand for gluten-free products is from a very small base, and is expected to level off in, say, five years, to the rate of population growth. The high growth rates are associated with the higher levels of value-adding, and disguise significant levels of substitution of more processed products for less processed products. A major problem with cross-contamination and resultant litigation discourages manufacturers of gluten-free food from making the claim, ‘Gluten-Free’, on their products. The great bulk of gluten-free food in Australia is manufactured from popular grains outside of the seven that are the subject of this study. The major successes by pathfinder firms in the gluten-free food market in Australia use rice, corn, soy and potato starch. Of the seven grains under study, the best prospects appear to be with quinoa, but examples of success exist with amaranth, buckwheat and millett.
Implications The major food manufacturers in Australia could quickly fill any significant growth in the gluten-free food market in Australia, with popular products made from grains other than those under study, by addressing the cross-contamination issue in their supply, manufacturing and distribution processes.

 

6. miscellaneous
 
Project Title: Second Australian New Crops Conference
RIRDC Project No.: UQ-104A
Researcher:  Dr Rob Fletcher
Organisation: School of Agronomy and Horticulture
University of Queensland Gatton 
Gatton 4343
Phone: (07) 5460 1311
Fax: (07) 5460 1112
Email:  r.fletcher@uq.edu.au
Objectives ·6 To provide an opportunity for those currently engaged in new crops research, development and commercialisation in Australia to meet together to review the latest developments in new crop commercialisation in Australia and throughout the world, investigate the benefits and opportunities for collaboration and cooperation, form new relationships and partnerships and identify new commercial initiatives, technology and processes.
Background The First Australian New Crops Conference was held at the University of Queensland Gatton in July 1996; the Australian New Industries Conference was mounted by Western Australia Agriculture in Perth in 1999; the Second Australian New Crops Conference was mounted at the University of Queensland Gatton in September 2004; all these conferences have been sponsored by RIRDC.
Research  More than fifty presentations on the process of new crop commercialisation were delivered by key speakers from most states of Australia, the USA, Canada and South Africa to an enthusiastic new crops audience which also included visitors from New Zealand, India and Egypt; interactive workshops on several key aspects of new crop commercialisation preceded the conference and field trips to new crop sites in South-east Queensland and northern New South Wales followed the conference.
Outcomes  The principles behind the new crop commercialisation process in Australia have now matured: the evaluation of the marketability of a new crop product, the process for developing a business plan for the production of the product and the importance of establishing appropriate supply chains to deliver the product to the consumer are well established; workshops focussing on these principles preceded the conference and these principles of commercialisation were evident throughout the presentations and discussions at the conference.

Many useful alliances using these principles were created as a direct result of the conference, not only between collaborators in Australia but also between the visitors from overseas and Australian new crop researchers and practitioners.

Wide spread coverage of the event and key aspects of the new crop commercialisation process were achieved through local and state newspapers and television; the launch of the Second Edition of the New Rural Industries Handbook also attracted good media coverage.

Implications  The new crop process in Australia has now matured: the principles behind the process of evaluating the marketability of a new crop product, developing a business plan for the production of the product and establishing the supply chains to deliver the product to the consumer are established and available as short courses: Initial planning: Do Our Own Marketing Research (DOOR Marketing); Strategic planning: Fresh Fields and Supply chain management.
Publications The proceedings of the Second Australian New Crops Conference were distributed to all conference delegates upon their arrival at the conference and are available on the Australian New Crops Website at: http://www.newcrops.uq.edu.au/nc2004/proc.html
Project Title: Energy viability of bio-fuel in broadacre farming regions
RIRDC Project No.: CUT-10A
Researcher:  Hongwei Wu
Organisation: Centre for Fuels and Energy
Curtin University of Technology
Phone: (08) 9266 4628
Fax: (08) 9266 1138
Email:  h.wu@curtin.edu.au
Objectives ·1 Development of a framework to assess energy viability of biomass-to-biofuel scenario in broadacre farming regions by coupling outputs of MIDAS, a whole farming system model, with an energy analysis tool; 

·2 Applications of the framework for case studies of two typical Western Australian regions.

Background As a renewable energy source, biomass is one of the ultimate resources for a truly sustainable energy supply in the future, delivering significant environmental benefits. Production of transport fuel derived from energy crops is one of the important routes for biomass utilisation. Evaluation of energy efficiency of the overall cycle from canola to biodiesel is of critical importance in understanding basic viability of a process. This project aims to develop a framework for energy analysis of broadacre farming regions through an integrated approach by coupling an Excel energy evaluation tool with MIDAS, which is a model of region farming system optimisation in terms of farm inputs, outputs and resource allocation for profit maximisation. 
Research  The research has identified that the key factors which influence the overall energy efficiency from biomass to biofuels. Our calculations show that indirect energy inputs in fertilisers applied during agricultural process and chemicals used during transestification process are the two key energy inputs which determine the overall energy efficiency of the bio-fuel product life cycle. In the case of the eastern wheatbelt region, the optimal area for canola growth is very sensitive to the increase in the price of energy. However, in the case of greater southern region, canola area is insensitive to the increase in the price of energy. 
Outcomes  An Excel temperature has been developed for the calculations of energy efficiency from biomass to bio-fuels for individual growers as well as broadacre regions. Case studies of canola-to-biodiesel have been done based on individual growers’ experiences, as well as broadacre regions in WA, including the greater southern region and eastern wheatbelt region, coupling with MIDAS predictions.
Implications  The results indicate that to improve the overall energy efficiency, future directions should be focused on 1). biomass and/or advanced agricultural technology requiring low fertiliser inputs; 2). advanced technology in oil transestification process requiring low chemical inputs; 3). recycling of by-products to indirectly substitute the fertiliser and chemical use in the processes; and 4). Compared to Europe, energy efficiency of canola-to-biodiesel is lower in Australia because low seed yield and poor soil response.
Publications Hongwei Wu and Ferry Rustandi, "Energy Efficiency Analysis of Bio-fuel Production from Biomass", Second Australian New Crops Conference, 20-24 September 2004, University of Queensland Gatton Campus (Presentation).

Hongwei Wu and Ferry Rustandi, "Canola-To-Biodiesel in Australia: Evaluation of Overall Energy Efficiency Based on Individual Growers", Rural Jourles - The Germination of Rural produced Energy, 22 Oct 2005, Muresk Institute, Northam, Perth (Presentation).

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