Boorowa farm to carry on agriculture research from Ginninderra
While moving away from the Ginninderra Field Station and all it’s contributed to agricultural research is a big change, we are very excited about the opportunities of a new farm.
We have purchased 290 hectares of land at Boorowa in New South Wales to continue our agricultural research program.
Boorowa is a farming region of NSW, located approximately 100 kilometres from the Ginninderra site.
The new farm, at less than half the size of the land at Ginninderra, will be easier to maintain and can be used more efficiently. Starting fresh at a new farm also means we have a new opportunity to use the latest digital farming technology from the outset.
CSIRO Agriculture Director Dr John Manners said he is looking forward to continuing CSIRO’s world leading agricultural science from the new farm.
“Establishing a new facility in a rural area allows us to take a green field approach to the site and our science,” Dr Manners said.
“This can enable us to conduct research into very new ways of farming, including the application of digital farming technologies. The new site is approximately 100 kilometres from our current site, allowing our Canberra researchers to continue their field trials on the new site.”
CSIRO’s acquisition of the land has been welcomed by local leaders including Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor and Mayor of Boorowa Shire Council, Wendy Tuckerman.
“Boorowa is one of Australia’s most significant areas for primary production and I am delighted its reputation will continue to be synonymous with agricultural excellence,” Mr Taylor said.
“Breakthroughs in technology have defined Australian agriculture. Hosting the customised farm research facility will ensure a long and beneficial relationship between the region and CSIRO.”
Mayor of Boorowa Shire Council, Wendy Tuckerman said the purchase of a farm in the local government area was fantastic news for the region.
“The purchase of the land in Boorowa by CSIRO has been a big win for the region,” Mayor Tuckerman said.
“We hope that this purchase brings researchers, scientists and staff to the region and pays dividends for both CSIRO and the community. We look forward to working with CSIRO into the future for the best outcomes of the region and the country.”
We will be looking at constructing our facilities on the property in the 2016-2017 financial year, subject to approvals.
We are excited to see how the new farm at Boorowa will advance Australian agricultural science.
Canberra’s hidden reserve
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for agricultural research in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
The Ginninderra site is located in the northern area of ACT, surrounded by the suburbs of Gungahlin, Hall and Nicholls to the north, Giralang to the east, and Evatt, Spence and Fraser to the south.
While nearby residents know more, it’s an area many people have driven past every day and never realised what lay within.
Behind the unassuming ridges and rows of vegetation lies 701 hectares of grassy open space with 80 hectares of irrigated, arable land. The quality soil and water availability on the site has provided excellent opportunities to support CSIRO’s agricultural research effort.
There are three houses, a machinery shed, a workshop, a barn, shearing sheds and some scientific equipment and approximately 5,000 sheep on the property.
Australia is famous for its beautiful natural environment which is reflected throughout the site. A mixture of native grasses, Scribbly Gum woodland, Box-Gum woodland, Eucalypts and pines create the greenscape of the site.
A natural drainage system, Halls Creek, separates the upper and lower areas of the site. Surrounded by ridges and hills there are amazing views across to Belconnen Town Centre, Telstra Tower and the Brindabella’s from the highest points of the site.
Canberra is known for its ability to incorporate green spaces into the city. The future of the site will embody this, retaining green spaces, open reserves, and natural vegetation. Sitting within the north-eastern end of site lie two very special trees, Canberra’s oldest oaks. This unique part of the landscape will be preserved throughout the development.
The site is also home to native, endangered species including the Golden Sun Moth and Box-Gum woodland. Protecting the plants and creatures that call the Ginninderra lands home is integral to this project. Opportunities to improve the quality of woodlands and create natural reserves will arise throughout the course of the project.
A number of Aboriginal heritage locations have been identified on the site. When European settlement took place in the area homesteads were set up near the Ginninderra property. Nearby heritage listed sites include the Charnwood Homestead, the Palmerville (Ginninderra) Homestead and the Ginninderra Police Station. These sites are all important in better understanding Canberra’s early history and will be respected throughout the project.
Canberra CBD to Ginninderra Field Station [PDF, 4MB]
Draft Concept Plan [PDF, 1MB]
CSIRO in Canberra: from agriculture to space
CSIRO’s presence in Canberra is almost as old as Canberra itself, with just 14 years separating the establishment of Canberra and the creation of our national science body.
Since these early beginnings, Canberra has been a critical part of CSIRO’s research in agriculture and the natural sciences.
CSIRO’S Black Mountain offices opened in 1927, with the Department of Entomology moving into its own building in 1934. The Australian National Herbarium was also established during the 1930s.
The first site for agricultural research in Canberra was a site at Duntroon Farm, which later became Canberra Airport. A story in The Canberra Times in May 1931 said the costs of operating the farm would be covered by a £6,000 per annum contribution from the Empire Marketing Board, and that:
“Special attention is to be paid to investigations of wheat resistance and diseases, while a special section will be set aside for testing new grasses and forage plants to be introduced from abroad.”
This research site shifted from Duntroon to the Dickson Experiment Station in 1940, and experiments into crop and pasture trials continued here. Scientists also looked at how land could be used productively for livestock and crop farming, and housed a large flock of merino and Border Leicester sheep.
CSIRO’s history in Canberra is about more than agriculture, even though this has been a key focus. In 1965 the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex opened at Tidbinbilla, and has worked with NASA on space exploration missions ever since. For nearly 60 years, the Gungahlin Homestead property at Crace was used for CSIRO’s Sustainable Ecosystems research program.
As urban development began to encroach on the Dickson farm, it was time for the field state to be moved once again. CSIRO acquired the 701 acre land for the Ginninderra Experiment Station in 1958, moving all research there by 1962.
The Dickson area turned out to be much-needed land for urban development, as the ACT population almost doubled from 55,000 to over 90,000 in the five years between 1960 and 1965.
Photos from the time show the rapid pace of development in Dickson and the surrounding suburbs once this land close to the centre of Canberra was repurposed.
Meanwhile, the Ginninderra site over the years has provided space for multiple research projects, including testing varieties of crop seeds, animal farming and other agricultural experiments.
The site has contributed to Australian science including the development of BarleyMax and dual purpose wheats, crop and pasture improvement, sustainable farming, plant breeding and the effects of climate changes on crop production and soil carbon.
Once again, the city of Canberra has grown up around a CSIRO research site. Neighbouring suburbs include Hall and Nicholls to the north, the Belconnen suburb of Giralang to the east, and Evatt, Spence and Fraser to the south.
The story of CSIRO’s agriculture research in Canberra continues with the creation of the National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct, a $190 million investment bringing together research partners at CSIRO’s foundation site at Black Mountain. This initiative will bring together researchers from all over the world to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in plant and environmental sciences.
Seizing new opportunities
For nearly 100 years, CSIRO has driven scientific innovation in Australia. Since it was established in 1926, CSIRO has built on its initial mandate to carry out scientific research in farming, mining and manufacturing.
CSIRO has been in Canberra since 1927, and currently holds seven sites and properties in the ACT. One of these is the Ginninderra Field Station, which has been used for agricultural research for over 50 years.
The city of Canberra has grown up around the site, with suburbs surrounding nearly all sides of the property, which has led the CSIRO explore the site’s future urban development opportunities.
Exploring the site’s future urban potential also offers the opportunity for CSIRO to reinvest in its infrastructure to make sure it can continue carrying out world-class science.
CSIRO holds an extensive property portfolio across Australia and internationally. Property holdings
are regularly reviewed through an ongoing strategic review processes to identify sites that are underutilised and opportunities to reinvest in CSIRO’s infrastructure to continue delivering world-class science.
Agricultural research sites in Canberra have already shifted multiple times to accommodate urban development.
CSIRO Agriculture Director, Dr John Manners, recalls;
“CSIRO has used the Ginninderra Field Station since 1958. Prior to that we had field facilities where the current airport is located and also where the Dickson shops are located now. Part of this site has actually already been rezoned and used for urban development in Crace.”
The facilities at Ginninderra, he says, are aging and need renewing. Given much of the land at Ginninderra is underutilised, moving agricultural research to another location means the new space can be used efficiently and incorporate new technology into CSIRO’s research.
“The Ginninderra field station occupies about 700 hectares of land. A lot of that land at the moment is underutilised in our research, so if we start a new site for experimental research we can optimise our use of the land,” says Manners.