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SmartFarmer • May 2014
Last run for Lenswood research facility
By MAX OPRAY
AFTER 50 years of operation,
the Lenswood Agricultural
Centre may be forced to close
down after PIRSA deemed the horti-
cultural research facility "surplus to
A PIRSA spokesperson said activity
at the centre had reduced following
the reallocation of "national research
Eight staff work at the centre in
farming, biosecurity, consulting
services and administration.
The organisation has been in
consultation with the local council
regarding sale of the property, with
PIRSA signalling any profit made
could go towards construction of the
Sterile Insect Technology facility at
Port Augusta to combat Queensland
Horticultural groups have
expressed disappointment at the
Horticultural Coalition of SA
chairman Trevor Ranford said the
industry was not consulted at any
time during the process.
"It's been done mostly behind
closed doors," he said.
"It would be extremely disappoint-
ing, particularly for horticulture and
wine grapes in the Adelaide Hills
"Being a cool-climate production
area, removing the Lenswood centre
will leave us with no land to do
appropriate research development,
and more importantly, extension
Mr Ranford said while PIRSA
was pointing to a lack of need for
research and development, the most
useful aspect of the centre was for
extension work, such as trials of
chemicals used overseas but not
registered in Australia.
He said the centre had been
instrumental in developing eight
cherry varieties for the national
cherry breeding program, along with
vital work increasing the density and
yield of apple orchards.
If the Lenswood Research Centre is sold, proceeds may fund the construction of a Sterile Insect Technology facility at Port Augusta.
Coalition of South
Grower groups not consulted
Centre in decline for years
Eight cherry varieties developed
Mr Ranford would have liked to
have used the centre to develop
the state's nascent hazelnut industry,
which he said could boom if the right
sort of research was undertaken.
He said the centre also had good
facilities for regional and local meet-
ings, and that the hazelnut confer-
ence scheduled for mid-October
would now have to find an alterna-
Cherry Growers Association of
SA president Andrew Flavell said
his organisation had hosted sev-
eral AGMs and talks by international
guests at the Lenswood centre
If the facility was sold, he said they
would have to rent out a club room
for their meetings.
As for cherry research, the last ves-
tiges of the national cherry breeding
program would be evaluated after
which Tasmania would take the lead
in research and development.
PIRSA deputy chief executive Don
Frater told ABC News last month
that Adelaide Hills horticultural
producers could rely on research
coming out of Vic.
"In SA, our concentration is, rather
than replicating every single activity,
for example in dairy and horticul-
ture, we have instead moved to look
at grain, wine grapes, pigs, poultry
and animal welfare," he said.
LONG-STANDING Port Augusta City Councillor Peter Solomon has
received the prestigious John Legoe Award for Excellence for his
contribution to local government and his community.
The announcement was made at the annual Local Government
Awards held in Adelaide in April.
Cr Solomon is one of only a handful to have received the
award, and the second recipient from Port Augusta Council, after
the late Mayor Joy Baluch AM received the honour in 2009.
Port Augusta City Manager Greg Perkin congratulated Cr
Solomon on his award and for his long-term commitment to the
"Cr Solomon has been a councillor for 21 years and is also a
member of the Local Government Association Board, represent-
ing the Spencer Gulf region," Mr Perkin said.
"He is a strong advocate for Port Augusta and the region and
is involved in a number of committees. He has a strong social
conscience that sees him champion the needs of disadvantaged
groups in the community."
Cr Solomon, who was previously in the post of deputy mayor
for eight years, said the award came as a surprise to him, and
that he felt honoured.
He has served as Port Augusta City Councillor for more than
two decades, and said the best thing about local government
was working with the people who care about the community.
The most important role Cr Solomon believes he can play is
to influence decision makers to improve the community and the
"As a councillor, or even a mayor, you have very little power
but you have a great deal of influence. It's that influence we
need to utilise to build a strong and vibrant community," he said.
Apple and Pear Growers
Association of SA chief executive
officer Susie Green is concerned the
research undertaken elsewhere will
not be relevant to Adelaide Hills
"The research needs to be extended
to locals, which doesn't happen well
without people here on the ground
and being involved, doing grassroots
research and extension," she said.
Ms Green is not surprised by the
move, saying the centre had been
deteriorating for the past 10 years,
but said early consultations could
have worked out some solutions.
"It's been in slow decline for a long
time -- could have been helpful if
they'd consulted with us in the last
few years in regard to how to sup-
port horticulture locally," she said.
Family First MP Rob Brokenshire
says closing the centre is a terrible
idea given the challenges facing the
"The shining light at the minute is
value-added food production -- we
need to be both talking the talk and
walking the walk," he said.
"We need to be putting more
money into our food production
research, not taking it out."
He is concerned about PIRSA
losing research staff to the private
sector, but believes it is not yet too
late to save Lenswood, "until they
put the padlock on the gate".
As an example, Mr Brokenshire
said the campaign to fight the closure
of the Loxton research centre was
so successful that commonwealth
funds were now being poured in to
expand the facility.
"We are at the 11th hour with
Lenswood however; with Loxton
the campaign was underway much
earlier," he said.
PIRSA says work on the recon-
struction of Loxton Research Facility
will start next year, and construction
on new facilities at Murray Bridge
has already begun.
The agency's future priorities for
horticultural research will encom-
pass climate adaptation, heat and
water stress, water management,
water quality, irrigation technolo-
gies, salinity issues, pest and disease
management, biosecurity, molecu-
lar diagnostics and emergency
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Emergency veterinary care round the clock
THE University of Adelaide is starting
a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week
veterinary service at its leading-edge
Companion Animal Health Centre at
the Roseworthy campus.
From Monday, May 5, veterinarians,
veterinary nurses and veterinary
science students will work together
to provide round-the-clock emergency
services throughout the week.
This will be in addition to extended
normal consulting hours from the
current 6pm, Monday to Friday, to 8pm
(with last patient at 7.45pm) and an
overnight care patient referral service
for other veterinary practices.
The centre currently offers a 24-hour
service only on weekends and public
"We are extremely pleased to be
able to offer a 24-hour service every
day," said Head of the School of
Animal and Veterinary Sciences Prof
"As pet owners know very well, pets
do not only get sick in the daytime or
conveniently on weekends. Now pet
owners can have the peace of mind to
have somewhere to bring their unwell
pet for expert consultation whatever
the time of day or night, every day of
"The new service will also relieve
some of the burden from other veteri-
nary practices who don't necessarily
have the staff to offer overnight or
The Companion Animal Health Centre
is part of the University's School of
Animal and Veterinary Sciences and
one of four teaching veterinary health
centres at the Roseworthy campus.
It is the largest and most
comprehensive veterinary clinic in SA,
offering general practice and special-
ist referral services with the latest
technology and facilities.
Under the new 24/7 service, final-
year veterinary science students will
work with the rostered veterinarian
as part of their clinical rotations; and
fourth and fifth-year veterinary science
students will complete some of their
required practical placement in the
"We're expecting an increased
case load which offers a tremendous
opportunity for our students to work
alongside our expert veterinary staff
to gain the broadest possible experi-
ence," Prof Abbott said.
"They will find a tremendous
satisfaction in helping provide our local
community with the best possible care
and attention for the wellbeing of their
• Need to know more?
Companion Animal Health Centre,
08 8313 1999.
Final year veterinary student Jess
Liddiard, University of Adelaide's
Head of Companion Animals
Associate Professor Peter Hill and
Alvin the cat.
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