Celebrating 100 years of research at South Johnstone

News release | 04-Dec-2018

Plant diseases and their cures, biological control, plant breeding, new varieties and new industries – South Johnstone has seen it all over the last century.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries South Johnstone Research Station is throwing its doors open this week to mark its 100th birthday.

Doug Lloyd, Station Manager, said this Wednesday’s (5 December) open day was an opportunity for employees past and present, partners, friends and collaborators to come together in appreciation of a century of achievements.

“We’ve invited everyone that has an association with our research station to join us to mark this milestone,” said Mr Lloyd.

“Over the past 100 years, the research station’s achievements include identifying diseases and cures including biological and chemical control options, plant breeding and selection, and trialling cocoa as a new industry.

“Our facility is the only one in the wet tropics, and is a benchmark for timber trials internationally, due to the climate providing a good environment to test timber durability.”

At the open day, there will be a display gallery of historical information, guest speakers and interactive displays including use of old and new technology, current research efforts, biosecurity practices, a drone display and some taste testing of bananas and tropical fruits in season.

Employees at the station cover the disciplines of nematology, plant pathology, entomology, physiology and horticulture.

The South Johnstone Research Station is on a 46ha site primarily providing trial sites and infrastructure support for banana, papaya and timber research. The major focus of research is in plant protection, varietal selection and agronomy.

The station services the banana, papaya, exotic tropical fruits and beverage industries throughout Queensland and Northern Australia.


1918: Initiation of a Northern Sugar Experiment Station at South Johnstone.

1936: The Experiment Station was re-established as the Bureau of Tropical Agriculture (later renamed the South Johnstone Research Station). The primary object of the Bureau was to explore the possibilities of crops other than sugarcane which, by either natural fitness or adaptation, could find an economic future in north Queensland and contribute to its further settlement and development. (Aust. Sugar J., 10 October 1936, p. 411).

1940s: Focus on miscellaneous tropical crops including rice, tea, grasses and legumes.

1970s-80s: A programme was established at South Johnstone Research Station for a winter generation of peanuts, as well as investigating the agronomy of cassava, and beginning nutrient trials for bananas farming.

1990s-2000s: Research covers bananas, tropical fruits, papaya, cocoa, timber durability and trellising systems.

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