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Published: 8 Jun 2022

Multi-million-dollar projects created to help farms adapt to climate change; research into ancient medicine for modern markets; and exploring a feral pest’s potential as fertiliser are just some of the 80 projects featured in the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s (TIA) annual report, TIA Highlights 2021.

In early 2021, the TASAg Innovation Hub (formerly known as the Adoption and Innovation Hub for Drought Resilience – Tasmania) was established with the support of $8 million in funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

This is a partnership between many key stakeholders in Tasmania who will contribute time and money to the Hub. The Hub will build the capabilities of farmers and rural communities to better prepare for drought.

Additionally, TIA is leading Sustainable Pathways to Carbon Neutrality by 2030 for Meat and Livestock Australia - a $31 million partnership across multiple universities in Australia which will undertake seven projects to enable the carbon neutrality of the Australian livestock industry.

The partnership is being led by Associate Professor Matthew Harrison, TIA Systems Modelling Team Leader, and $4 million will fund University of Tasmania-led projects.

“TIA has a mandate to deliver agri-food research, industry development and education for the agri-food industry of Tasmania,” TIA Director Professor Michael Rose said.

“From the advantages that Tasmania offers us, we deliver to the world. 2021 has proved to be a pivotal year for TIA as we doubled down on that mandate by embarking on the delivery of several key initiatives.”

In 202I, the University of Tasmania signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tasmanian Government to deliver a nation-leading agricultural precinct in northern Tasmania that will co-locate agricultural science, water management, industry development, and biosecurity functions into a single precinct.

2021 also saw work begin on upgrades at TIA’s research facilities at Forthside and Elliott.

A five-year partnership between the University of Tasmania and the State Government, will see $7.8 million invested to modernise TIA’s Forthside Vegetable Research Facility and Elliott Dairy Research Facility to enable TIA to continue to undertake valuable agricultural research, industry development and education programs to drive productivity and sustainability for the Tasmanian agricultural sector.

TIA also introduced a Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness, Dairy Management - alongside its existing offering of a Graduate Diploma in Horticultural Business - to address the changing needs of the dairy industry.

Trial plantings were sown at Forthside, as part of a decade-long research project to establish whether medicinal crops can be grown in Tasmania.

TIA’s focus on sustainable agriculture was highlighted in several projects including: an $800,000 research project to help Australian apple and pear growers stay at the leading-edge by better understanding the connection between healthy soils and productive orchards under increasing climate variability; and assessing the benefits of sea urchin processing waste as an agricultural fertiliser and soil ameliorant.

Not least, the TIA Strategy was published in 2021.

“TIA’s strategic plan is led by the vision that TIA will enable Tasmanian food producers and processors to accelerate primary sector productivity while maintaining and improving Tasmania’s land and water quality for future generations,” Professor Rose said.

“How we enable that vision comprises several strategies, including: transforming the knowledge of agriculture, food production and post-farmgate practices to create sustainable and economic benefit; building resilience to climate change; and creating educational pathways into agriculture and the food industry, and refocusing the curriculum to enable the growth of both.”

Download 2021 Highlights here.

TIA is a joint venture of the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government.