Merredin farmers have welcomed a $1.8 million upgrade to their local Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development facility, more than two years after it was nearly destroyed by a storm.
The new site was officially opened last Friday, with growers, politicians and State Government staff travelling from far and wide to see the facility.
While it hasn’t been completely revamped, it is hoped the upgrade will boost the scientific capability of the DPIRD facility.
Four laboratories have been rebuilt to modern standards and another two added to accommodate research involving pathology, a controlled environment, soils processing, and plant and grain quality analysis.
The new additions complement the department’s existing infrastructure at Merredin, including 600ha for field trials, two glasshouses, a sample processing facility, as well as the Managed Environment Facility and the New Genes for New Environments research assets.
The roof and ceiling have also been replaced, offices refurbished and landscaping refreshed.
Wild winds of up to 113km/h tore roofing iron and timber battens off the north wing of the DPIRD facility and dumped them in the carpark in March 2018.
With the office fenced off with tarpaulins covering the roof and signs warning of asbestos, DPIRD staff moved into the former Merredin Landmark office on Mitchell Street in Merredin, but have happily moved into their new facility.
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the facility would be at the forefront of dryland agricultural research.
“We have taken the time and opportunity to not only repair but substantially improve the scientific resources at the Merredin facility so it is equipped with the tools and infrastructure required to support advances in dryland research,” she said. “The rebuild includes purpose-built laboratories that feature a new soil preparation and processing area, with additional room for pathology work and a new near-infrared machine to enable our grains scientists to improve efficiencies and expand the breadth of their work.”
Ms MacTiernan said the investment heralded the next generation of research on climate adapted farming systems.
“This includes the first substantive field trials to evaluate the benefits of regenerative agriculture,” she said.
“The renovation of the site has been worth the wait and these new, high-quality facilities will support the continued growth and prosperity of the region.”
Solution 4 Building Pty Limited undertook the work, with local contractors and suppliers.