HORSHAM is now home to Australia's newest post-entry grain quarantine glasshouse, with the facility officially opened today.
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Taylor attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday for the $4 million Australian Grains Genebank glasshouse.
Ms Taylor said the state-of-the-art building would bolster Horsham's status as a grain hub.
"It is great because of the people that it brings to Horsham in terms of the researchers and scientists," she said.
"Isn't it great to think that Horsham is home to Australia's genebank and now our post-entry quarantine facility? Horsham is the heart of Australia's food security when we think about the importance of grains to our agricultural industry."
Seeds have to pass through quarantine processes before being distributed to plant breeders and researchers.
Imported seeds will be transported to the facility via an air freight courier system to grow to full maturity. Researchers will carry out a range of tests on the plants to ensure they are free of exotic pests and diseases.
Genebank senior technical officer Shane King said the facility was the first of its kind to be built to the federal government's 5.2 quarantine regulations.
"We are looking for mainly fungal, bacteria or viral pathogens here. We use molecular techniques to do our viral screening and all of our bacteria and fungal are visually screened," he said.
"In this facility, there are about 15,000 plants at a time. We are hoping to bring the quarantine time down to about four or five minutes - with the LED's replicating the effects of the sun."
Construction of the glasshouse was jointly funded by the Victorian Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, which invested $2 million towards the project.
The 400 square metre facility was purpose-built to hold imported grains in quarantine until maturation - and hopes to speed up the quarantine process with LED lighting, a Wi-Fi enabled irrigation system and climate control.
Genebank national leader of Australian grains Sally Norton said the facility would act as Australia's premiere quarantine facility.
"This facility allows us to bring in more material more quickly and make it available to Australia's researchers and plant breeders in a much faster manner," she said.
"This is the biosecurity border - everything that is coming through here is certified to be cleaned of pests and bacteria, protecting the Australian grain industry."
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