Plant Research Centre

The Plant Research Centre located at the Waite Campus, Adelaide is a unique research complex offering impressive capabilities to support agricultural and bioscience innovation.

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) head office is located at the centre. SARDI also conducts research at other locations at the Waite Campus, South Australia’s premier agricultural research precinct.

The high standards of the centre’s facilities and capabilities support our advanced research in:

Crops and horticulture:

  • Crop Evaluation and agronomy.
  • Crop and horticultural pathology including:
    • diagnostic services to growers
  • Entomology
  • Crop improvement.
  • Climate risk management
  • Farming systems
  • Water Resources
  • Viticulture

Pastures and sustainable resources:

  • Genetic resource conservation.
  • Lucerne cultivar development.
  • Medic cultivar development.
  • Rhizobiology.
  • Soil and plant nutrition.
  • Pathology.

Food Safety and Innovation:

Facilities used by the Food Safety and Innovation science program include:

  • Analytical laboratories with testing facilities in traditional and molecular microbiology.
  • Sensory laboratory.
  • New product development kitchen.
  • Small-scale packaging and processing equipment.
  • Cool rooms for storage at various temperatures.

Features and capabilities

Adaptable plant growth rooms with controlled environments

The facility houses 30 controlled environment rooms for plant research, each measuring 12 square metres.

Features include:

  • temperature ranges from 5°C to 40°C
  • variable light intensities from  250 to 400 watts
  • controlled plant growth lighting
  • fully automated control systems.

Efficient building management system

Computer-based building management systems monitor and control the mechanical and electrical services of the building as well as climate control characteristics of the controlled environment rooms and greenhouses.

Efficient energy generation and recycling

A gas-fired power generator supports the energy requirements of the building which reduces demand on the public electricity grid.

Mechanical services harness the surplus energy produced by the co-generation system to be reused for heating the building and greenhouses.

This system provides an essential power back-up in the event of public network supply interruption.

Greenhouse capability

The centre’s greenhouses:

  • simulate natural conditions to allow for advanced experimentation
  • operate in conjunction with the building management system
  • consist of 24 modules, each measuring 150 square metres.

Each greenhouse is covered in twin-walled polycarbonate. The lightweight durable material:

  • is impact resistant
  • maximises natural light
  • provides thermal insulating properties which reduce heating and cooling costs.

Greenhouse modules include:

  • three QC2 certified quarantine modules
  • three PC2 certified greenhouse modules
  • two refrigerated greenhouse modules to provide accurate low temperature environments


The centre contains a range of  PC2, QC2 and general use laboratories to support the research capabilities of the research divisions.

Coolrooms and freezers

The centre has a combination of 23 coolrooms and freezers used to securely house unique germplasm collections and perishable post harvest samples

Field Crop Improvement Centre

The Field Crop Improvement Centre, located on the Waite Campus, provides advanced capabilities in field crop research.

The Agronomy team and SARDI’s oat and vetch breeding programs are co-located at the centre.

The Agronomy program supports full field evaluation of potential new varieties at more than 90 sites throughout the state.

The centre is committed to:

  • ensuring that grain producers throughout Australia remain competitive in local and export markets
  • developing improved cereal and pulse varieties which enable sustainable on-farm productivity
  • hastening the release of new crop varieties that meet market demands.

Contact us

Plant Research Centre and Field Crop Improvement Centre

Waite Campus, 2b Hartley Grove,Urrbrae SA 5064
Telephone: (08) 8303 9400
Fax: (08) 8303 9403

Dr Kathy Ophel Keller, Research Chief, Sustainable Systems
Waite Campus, Urrbrae
Phone: (08) 8429 0206

Page Last Reviewed: 27 Jul 2015
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