SA seed bank stock readied for transfer to global seed vault

17 January 2018

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

​Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Kim Ritman, is visiting the Australian Pastures Genebank in South Australia today, to oversee the preservation of Australia’s pastures and cropping legacy as local seeds are prepared for transfer to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

Dr Ritman said the transfer of seeds from Australia’s two seed vaults to Norway next month would provide additional protection to a number of significant seed varieties that represent Australia’s prestigious pasture and grain crop history.

“The Australian Pastures Genebank in South Australia and the Australian Grains Genebank in Victoria play critical roles in underpinning agricultural productivity growth through genetic improvement and protecting our seeds for future generations,” Dr Ritman said.

“While Australian collections feature a variety of unique and valuable seed stocks, the vault in Norway acts as a back-up to ensure future generations enjoy the best possible chance of overcoming the potential for natural or man-made disasters that may arise through challenges like climate change, population growth and even war.

“While more than 1,700 genebanks exist across the world, few are capable of withstanding natural catastrophes or war—or even something as mundane as a freezer malfunction that could cause irreversible losses.

“The Svalbard bank is built 120 metres into solid rock, which ensures the vault rooms remain naturally frozen and provides the collection of samples, which currently stands at 890,000, with protection from external events.

“Seeds selected for transfer to the global vault in February include strains of cotton, chickpea, lentil, sesame, sorghum, wheat, barley, canola, , tropical and temperate pasture legumes and grasses and Australian native species that are considered of actual or historical significance to Australia, and don’t yet feature in the Svalbard collection.

“These varieties have been chosen as they represent Australia’s important history with grain crops and pastures. They are particularly significant given Australia’s proud legacy as a leading producer of world-class crops and pasture based industries.”

Further information about Australian Pastures Genebank may be found at:

Further information about Australian Grains Genebank may be found at:

Dr Ritman will travel to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway next month, when two pallet loads containing 34,000 lines of Australian seeds will be deposited.