The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility’s national expansion took another major step forward recently.

Representatives from our expanded network of nine Nodes, Central Office and Central Data Team gathered at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus on 14 – 15 February to discuss future operations and collaboration.

Dr Ron Sandland, Chair of the APPF Advisory Board, welcomed the attendees, acknowledging that Australian agriculture would benefit from APPF’s innovation, scientific support, data platforms and infrastructure.

“The collective capabilities in our network are exceptional and I am excited to see the impact this team will achieve,” he declared.

Dr Sandland also reflected on the transition the APPF has undergone in recent years which led to the recent funding success.

“Since appointing the Board and our first CEO, Dr Susie Robinson, followed by our newest appointment Richard Dickmann, we have seen great growth and development of APPF,” he said.

“We are excited and proud to now be celebrating our expansion to nine partner nodes, making us a truly national network.”

The two-day, face to face forum provided a great opportunity for Nodes to present their plant phenotyping capabilities, help shape APPF’s programs (e.g. Strategic Initiatives and Postgraduate Internship Awards), our vision and mission, and communications activities. A jam-packed Day 1 ended with a giraffe feeding opportunity at Adelaide Zoo, followed by a group dinner and a thought-provoking presentation on how farming systems must meet global food security and sustainability challenges, by 2023 GRDC Seed of Gold recipient Professor Andrew Barr.

An extensive tour of APPF’s Adelaide Node, The Plant Accelerator®, kicked off Day 2 of the forum. This included high throughput phenotyping platforms, an X-Ray CT scanning facility and the new Amiga mobile phenotyping platform, and provided representatives of the newer Nodes with plenty of opportunity to see and ask questions about operations at one of APPF’s established Nodes.

Discussions focusing on the goals of APPF’s newly established Expert Working Groups helped summarise the key objectives in delivering national research infrastructure for plant phenotyping in controlled environments and the field, underpinned by FAIR data principles, which will soon be rolled across Australia (WA, SA, ACT, Vic, NSW, Qld) to accelerate research outcomes for sustainable agriculture.