Murdoch University has entered into a partnership with Western Australia’s Potato Marketing Corporation (PMC) to improve the yield and quality of fresh potatoes in the State.
Dr Stephen Milroy, the newly appointed Research Manager of Potato Research WA, said this includes looking at developing new varieties specifically for growers in the State.
”Big retailers have indicated that consumer tastes are changing and that demand is high for potatoes with yellow flesh and more complex flavours, textures and colours. We need varieties that meet these demands and are suited to conditions in WA,” Dr Milroy said.
Dr Milroy said Potato Research WA would also undertake research to tackle plant pathology issues and improve production.
“Part of our role is to draw together the expertise that already exists in WA, which up until now, hasn’t been focussed. This includes specialists in soil-borne diseases, insect pests and nematodes,” he said.
“We also want to investigate how to improve crop production systems for growers, including optimising irrigation strategies and soil nutrient uptake, while at the same time being cognisant of environmental changes to do with temperature increases and rainfall decreases.
“It’s a big challenge, but I like the idea of doing research in close contact with industry and hopefully seeing a strong impact for the marketplace and consumers in the future.”
PMC CEO Mr Peter Evans said Potato Research WA’s establishment would provide the necessary scientific knowledge to further his organisation’s commitment to improving quality, disease control and variety development.
“The establishment of Potato Research WA gives the State its first dedicated centre with potato research at its core. And with his substantial experience as a researcher and research manager, Dr Milroy is an excellent choice to provide leadership and drive its agenda,” Mr Evans said.
"The centre stands to be a key enabler for the WA potato industry – developing close links between existing research organisations, merchants and growers and providing translatable research with real-world outcomes.”
Dr Milroy comes to the job after ten years working in wheat agronomy and crop production systems at the CSIRO, with a particular interest in water use in dryland crops. Prior to that, he worked with the CSIRO in the irrigated cotton industry in New South Wales.