Sugar research body invests nearly $4 million to counter Yellow Canopy Syndrome

15 April 2014165051_YCS_close_up_field_shot
SRA Media Release

The Board of Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has invested nearly $4 million dollars from reserves to fund a three-year integrated research program as part of its ongoing resolve to identify and develop management strategies for Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS).

Mr Paul Wright AM, Chairman, SRA said that the amount of investment reflects the level of concern SRA Members and levy payers have expressed about YCS.

“YCS exists in cane-growing communities that produce over eighty per cent of Australia’s sugar. The SRA Board toured affected farms in the north in early April and witnessed first-hand the impact of YCS,” Mr Wright said.

“As an industry-owned company, SRA has a responsibility to not only understand the challenges our Members and levy payers face, but to respond to these industry priorities with good science.  What the SRA Board saw affirmed our decision that using reserves to fund further YCS research was a solid investment decision.”

The program includes two new research projects and a three-year extension of the current ‘Solving the Sugarcane Yellow Canopy Syndrome’ research project which received almost $1 million from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Sugar Research Development Corporation and BSES (now SRA) in June 2013.

Professor John Lovett, Chairman of the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre who leads the independent YCS Scientific Reference Panel, said that the research conducted to date had gathered a wealth of data about the effects of the condition.  This was helping to narrow down the large number of possible causes of YCS.

“Armed with this array of informative data the three-year program will shift its direction from monitoring the effects to focus on the possible causes of YCS and how these might best be addressed,” Professor Lovett said.

“We expect the two new projects to provide complementary information and results that will build upon our existing knowledge and possibly steer our research direction into new avenues as we progress.”

The first new project will be undertaken by the University of Western Sydney over a period of two years and will compare the health of the soil that healthy and YCS-affected plants grow in, in an attempt to identify if differences exist. This knowledge may lead to the identification of soil health management strategies that growers can put into place to manage YCS.

The second new project will be conducted by SRA over one year and through a range of biochemical and physiological approaches seeks to understand how YCS affects the internal behaviour of the sugarcane plant.

“If we understand what is happening inside the plant, we believe we can shed some new light on the biological factors that cause or drive the development of YCS.

“In this project the SRA research team will collaborate on the collection of data and the complex analysis of results with world-renowned experts from institutes in Australia, Canada, Germany, the United States of America and South Africa,” confirmed Professor Lovett.

“YCS is a complex condition and understanding it requires a comprehensive and robust research approach.

“The independent Scientific Reference Panel will closely monitor the investment program over the three-year period to ensure that the research effort remains focused and outcomes are communicated to SRA Members and levy payers.

“SRA Members and levy payers can be assured that through this investment their industry-owned company is committed to solving the YCS puzzle,” concluded Mr Wright.

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