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Research and development key to future of wool industry

Tuesday, 04 September 2018

Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) are important keys to the future of the wool industry and Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) has announced it will this year open its annual Call for Proposals for on-farm and off-farm RD&E projects three months earlier.

AWI takes a multidisciplinary, collaborative and systems-based approach to the strategic selection of RD&E projects. To facilitate project collaboration between AWI and other RDCs within the on-farm sector, AWI’s application process will be open between Wednesday September 12 and Friday November 30, 2018.

A myriad of RD&E possibilities within the strategic areas of Sheep Production, Woolgrower Services and Processing Innovation & Education Extension (PIEE) are available to organisations interested in realising opportunity within the booming Australian wool industry.

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough said AWI is moving into its next three-year strategic period and is interested in concepts from researchers that might inform AWI investments for this period.

“AWI invests in research, development and marketing (RD&M) across the wool industry supply chain to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry, and to increase demand and market access for Australian wool,” Mr McCullough outlined.

AWI’s General Manager of Research Dr Jane Littlejohn, identified AWI’s investment in genetics, capacity building, and wool harvesting as having delivered significant benefits for woolgrowers over the past three years.

“Current projects undertaken by AWI, include investments in reproduction that have resulted in the adoption programs offered by AWI’s networks, on-going genetic research that has resulted in breeding for breech flystrike resistance and a new project looking into fully automated wool harvesting,” Dr Littlejohn outlined.

Dr Littlejohn went on to confirm that productivity, adoption and capacity building had been identified by the National Wool RD&E Strategy 2018-2022 as priority areas for future RD&E projects in the wool industry.

“Increased productivity, hence profitability for woolgrowers will be a significant focus in the coming strategic period. Lamb survival rates, reproductive performance and reduced predation on sheep are just some of the key focus areas,” said Dr Littlejohn.

Projects focusing on Woolgrower Services will also be key in the 2019/22 strategic period.

General Manager, Woolgrower Services Stephen Feighan said delivery workshops such as Winning With Weaners, RAMping Up Repro and Realising Performance Potential are great examples of AWI-funded on-farm research delivery packages resulting in greater knowledge and adoption for woolgrowers and the industry.

“Further integrated delivery programs within the on-farm space are currently in the pipeline and we are looking to continue this investment. Projects proposals that align to AWI’s RD&E priorities and extend and develop this area will be welcomed,” said Mr Feighan.

Projects within the Processing Innovation & Education Extension (PIEE) strategy throughout the past three years have resulted in significant developments in the sports apparel space and facilitated the commercialisation of many technical wool fabrics.

General Manager of PIEE Julie Davies highlighted AWI has been working with manufacturers to develop technology to put wool into new markets.

“We are currently working with research institutions, supply chain partners and technicians to further develop wool yarns, fabrics and garments to enter new market opportunities in fashion, sports, outdoor, and workwear safety categories. Our collaborative developments such as water and wind resistant fabrics and treatments, seamless and flat knit technology and footwear are now being commercialised by manufacturing partners,” said Ms Davies.

To help identify the type of projects AWI would like to invest in, a table that sets out the programs in each of these strategic areas has been prepared and the AWI Manager responsible for each strategic area has been included.

Project applications must address AWI strategic priorities and programs in AWI’s Strategic Plan. Research portfolios include:

1. Sheep Production

  • Sheep Health & Welfare
  • Vertebrate Pests
  • Reproduction
  • Genetic Improvement
  • Farm Automation & Software Development
  • Feedbase & Eco-credentials
  • Fibre Advocacy

2. Woolgrower Services

  • Sheep & Wool Management Skills
  • Wool Harvesting & Quality Preparation

3. Processing Innovation & Education Extension

  • Product & Processing Innovation

Application forms will be available online from Wednesday 12th September 2018.

Applicants are requested to submit a full proposal by 12:00 noon Friday November 30, 2018.

Proposal enquiries are to be emailed to projects@wool.com

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