Partnership paves way for new planting technology in Australian cane industry

Sybil T. Mann
New Energy Farms (NEF) and Sugar Research Australia (SRA) have entered into a license agreement to introduce the NEF CEEDS technology into the Australian sugarcane industry.
NEF is a crop technology company, established in 2010, to develop artificial seeds for crops that do not produce conventional seeds, such as sugarcane.
NEF developed and patented the CEEDS technology for the multiplication and planting of sugarcane crops worldwide.
CEEDS are small coated propagules directly drilled in the field like conventional seed. NEF have already licensed CEEDS for commercial sugarcane use in other key sugarcane markets including Brazil and Central America.
The collaboration will utilise NEF’s experience in propagation of perennial grasses, in sugarcane and other high biomass crops like miscanthus and energy cane.
Testing will commence this season to evaluate the response of current and emerging Australian varieties in the production of CEEDS artificial seed. Subsequent trials will examine germination, plant establishment and crop performance under a range of Australian production conditions.
Dr Jason Eglinton, SRA executive ,manager for variety development and processing, said: “Establishing the crop is a major cost in sugarcane production. The value of just the sugarcane used for planting is around $25 million (€15 million) every year. New approaches in planting systems to release this industry value have been research topics before, but recent technological advances suggest it could now become a reality.
“This work will produce an understanding of the benefits and costs of the technology to inform potential adoption pathways. CEEDS also offers indirect benefits including the ability for growers to more rapidly change their variety mix and control of issues such as Ratoon Stunting Disease.”
The agreement will allow NEF to provide SRA with patented CEEDS technology to produce artificial seeds for the current, and future, sugarcane varieties in the Australian market.
“We are extremely pleased to have entered this License Agreement with SRA and we are very aware of the high level of respect in Australia and the wider sugarcane industry for their research and technology transfer activities,” said Dr Paul Carver, CEO of New Energy Farms.
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