BASF to develop drought-resistant wheat in Australia

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

BASF's plant science unit will spend US$17 million on a new
Australian research project to investigate drought-resistant wheat
varieties, it said today.

The news comes just after media coverage of a study done at Queensland University of Technology that suggests that wheat yields in Australia could drop by an average 15 per cent in the next 30 years owing to high temperatures and water shortages.

The study estimates therefore that the effects of climate change could wipe A$1 billion off Australia's wheat industry each year. Wheat is Australia's major crop with an annual value of A$4.2 billion currently.

Professor Peter Grace, research director of QUT's Institute for Sustainable Resources, also said that climate change would cause crops to grow quicker and lead to the introduction of new pests and diseases.

"In Australia over the next 30 to 50 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are predicted to increase significantly, with temperatures rising up to three degrees and rainfall falling by around 20 per cent or more in some areas,"​ said Professor Grace.

"Under these conditions and with the wheat varieties and agronomic practices currently used in Australia, we would expect to see an average decline in wheat yields across the country of 15 per cent which equates to around a billion dollars in lost income."

He called for drought resistant crop varieties to be introduced and developed.

The new BASF research in collaboration with the Plant Science and Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre (MPBCRC) aims to develop high yielding wheat varieties that are both more resistant to fungal diseases and adverse environmental conditions such as drought.

The seven-year project will involve 25 scientists based at MPBCRC, where it has previously carried out work in plant biotechnology.

"We are intensifying the cooperation with MPBCRC, because the results achieved to date have exceeded our expectations,"​ said Dr Hans Kast, chief executive of BASF's plant biotechnology company.

Related topics: Ingredients

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