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Project update: development of national industrial hemp variety trials 

AgriFutures Australia is supporting the development of national industrial hemp variety trials (IHVT), to address a core issue identified by Australian industry as essential to its growth ambitions.

Following a presentation to the Australian Industrial Hemp Conference (AIHC) and technical review in late February, the IHVT Framework and Trial Protocols have been finalised and endorsed by the
Hemp Project Steering Committee

The IHVT framework and protocols prescribe transparency and objectivity in the selection of varieties, site locations and compliance in the delivery of the trials. 

The developed documents enable simplicity in design and execution without compromising the integrity of the trials and learnings to be achieved. They incorporate statistical rigour in design and analysis of outputs.

The trials are proposed to be undertaken across a national footprint of sites in response to the demands of the industry. Performance of varieties will be measured primarily by the yield and composition (oil and protein levels) of the grain.

Procedures relating to experimental processes (i.e. site preparation, planting, harvesting, drying), accurate data collection and recording, audit oversight, laboratory methodology and timely reporting are all defined. 

The documents propose a robust governance framework for the trial delivery and provide clear roles and responsibilities. The framework includes resources with expertise in variety trials, financial and risk management, quality assurance and project management.

The framework and protocols also address the ongoing evolution in project objectives as suitable varieties are identified and the examination of agronomic and other variables as performance enhancers are explored.

The project breaks new ground for the industry, ensuring all information generated from the trials is publicly available.

Next steps

Consultancy firm Rounding Up are in the final stages of completing the business case in conjunction with the Hemp Steering Committee. to be used to secure the funding support from a broad range of industry, government and corporate bodies. 

Plant breeders with commercially available industrial hemp varieties are encouraged to make contact with Rounding Up (
sativa@rounding-up.com) to discuss potential inclusion in the IHVT. 

In addition, all interested parties from the entire value chain are welcome to offer their input on suggested varieties and the contact details of breeding companies that control the intellectual property in those varieties. 

The project team remains focused on completing the work by 31 May to enable the trials to commence later in 2020.

Rounding Up still welcome feedback and still encourage you to complete the industrial hemp online survey available via the
AgriFutures Australia website. The survey is an opportunity for industry to contribute to the project and have your say in the future of the industry. Your ongoing support, by forwarding this email to friends and colleagues is greatly appreciated.

Further project updates will be provided in the coming weeks. 

Tony Eyres
Rounding Up, Principal
+61 429 069 072