National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research to be led by Annette Cowie

Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald today announced the appointment of Professor Annette Cowie as the inaugural Director of the new National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research at Armidale.

Minister Macdonald made the announcement and launched the centre on its next $7 million phase of expansion during a ceremony at Booloominbah today.
“Professor Cowie has strong credentials to direct the centre’s future research, she is an international expert in greenhouse gas systems and has explored in-depth the opportunities for rural industries from emissions trading,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Professor Cowie’s experience as a senior research scientist with NSW DPI, along with her strong leadership skills, stand her in good stead for this role.”

The centre is a joint venture between NSW Government and the University of New England.

“I am pleased to say the partnership between the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the UNE is already bearing fruit, with $7.3 million worth of externally funded projects scheduled for the next three years.

“Scientists at the centre are initially focusing on reducing greenhouse emissions from agriculture, sequestering carbon in soils and developing next generation biofuels.

“The projects will provide practical management solutions to farmers, foresters and industries.”

The centre’s projects include:

• DPI scientists Dr Roberts Herd, Dr Roger Hegarty and Kath Donoghue have secured $1.58 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Climate Change Research Program to study genetic variation in beef cattle herds and techniques to reduce methane production in ruminants. Meat and Livestock Australia is supplementing these studies with a further $120,000.

• A project to measure monitor and determine the viability of sequestering carbon in agricultural systems in NSW has received $1.05 million over
three years through the Federal Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Soil Carbon Research Program. This project also received $400,000 in funding from the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).

• The centre’s climate change research program will investigate options for mitigating nitrous oxide emissions from cropping soils in North-West NSW. The project will receive $400,000 in funding from GRDC.

• The centre’s growing reputation has already attracted six new PhD students, bringing an additional $540,000 to the centre.

Minister Macdonald said primary industries and rural communities are a key part of the solution to meet climate challenges in the future.

“There are many opportunities for primary industries and land managers to play a major role, for example they can try and release less emissions while delivering food, fibre and fuel to the community,” he said.

Minister Macdonald said primary industries were the backbone of regional NSW with 73,000 people directly employed in agriculture and 2,500 in forestry.

“The NSW DPI commits close to $100 million on research, development and extension each year, supporting agricultural and forestry industries that produce more than $9 billion worth of product annually,” he said.

“This latest initiative will position NSW to harness the new opportunities that will be created by the shift to a low-carbon economy.”