Tree Breeding Australia was originally established in 1983 as the Southern Tree Breeding Association Incorporated. The following is a brief history of the key events in the organisations history.
|1983||The Southern Tree Breeding Association Incorporated (STBA) was incorporated on 13 July 1983, following the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires in the Green Triangle Region of SA/Victoria. The Member based cooperative was established to produce genetically improved radiata pine seed and undertake breeding to improve productivity. The formation of STBA allowed it's Members to better manage the operational risks of seed supply across the region.
The Foundation Members of STBA were the SA Woods and Forests Department (South Australian Government - now known as ForestrySA), Softwood Holdings Limited (now known as Green Triangle Forest Products Limited), Southern Australia Perpetual Forests Limited (now known as Penola Plantations) and CSIRO Division of Forest Research (Commonwealth Government Research Agency). Each Foundation Member contributed its existing resources such as trials, orchards and data to progress STBA. The SA Woods and Forests Department had been operating since 1873 and provided its significant genetic and breeding resources to the cooperative, with other members also assisting. STBA became the custodian of the genetic material on behalf of the Members.
The not-for-profit model established categories of Membership to separate Growers from Researchers, with each member contributing cash and/or in-kind support. A single employee (Tony Rout) was employed with Members contributing support for governance and operations.
|1988||Membership started to expand beyond the local plantation area as other growers and research entities saw value in the cooperative model.|
|1989||A nucleus breeding strategy was established for Radiata pine.|
|1990||A full time CEO (Dr David Boomsma) and Office Manager (Mandy Rudd) were appointed and office space rented in Mount Gambier.|
|1992||Dr Tim White (on sabbatical from Florida) assisted STBA with its radiata breeding strategy and production of estimated breeding values for growth and form. Breeding values were predicted on first generation selections (1213) and second generation material (1152), and allowed STBA to rank its genetic material for future breeding and deployment.
An Executive Committee (subset of Members) and Technical Committee were established to better manage corporate governance and separate technical discussions from financial decisions.
|1993||A national breeding plan for Radiata Pine was implemented and crossing commenced for a new generation of progeny tests. A Quantitative Geneticist (Dr Sue Jarvis) was employed.
STBA invests in Research activities on behalf of its Members and becomes a Registered Research Agency (potential tax deduction for research contributions made by members).
A Government Grant provides STBA with the opportunity to consider development of a National hardwood breeding program to compliment the softwood (Radiata) program.
|1994||STBA commenced hardwood breeding - including separate E. globulus and E. nitens programs. Eucalypt Members retained ownership of their genetic material and trials but allowed STBA to breed from this material with STBA as custodian of any new varieties on behalf of the Eucalypt Members.
Four staff manage separate programs and budgets for three breeding programs (radiata, globulus & nitens) and two seed production programs for radiata (OP and CP).
||STBA commenced a large scale R&D syndicated research project (prevent reproductive structures and mass propagation of sterile plants in radiata pine) to run over multiple years. Membership contributions were revised to more appropriately distribute the costs of the cooperative based model based on each members size and activity. A breeding strategy (Jarvis & Borralho) for E. globulus and E. nitens was released, and included an economic breeding objective. Breeding values were produced using an individual (tree) mixed model BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) analysis.|
|1996||The Radiata program established the next generation of progeny trials across 4 states (on Members estates). Peter Gore was appointed to manage the Eucalypt hardwood breeding programs. Additional staff were employed as a part of the R&D syndicated project including Andy Cameron (Technical Officer), Richard Kerr (Geneticist) and 7 others.|
|1997||The strategic and governance structure of the STBA was changed with a 7 Member Board (elected by Members every 2 years) to manage the business on behalf of the entire Membership. A single Technical Committee was formed to deal with technical direction and matters for deployment. A royalty was established for the sale of genetic material to non-members. The first STBA E. globulus progeny trials were established.|
|1998||The radiata program commenced sampling for wood density in the nucleus population. The R&D syndicated research project was finalised and staff levels reduced to 6. Limited resources resulted in the E. nitens breeding program being terminated. A Research Strategy was adopted to manage research proposals and funding.|
|1999||Seed production for E. globulus commenced. Structural changes were made to accommodate staff turnover and business objectives. Dr Tony McRae was appointed as the Principal Geneticist. Peter Gore commenced managing Eucalypt seed production with David Pilbeam employed as the Eucalypt Breeder. Dr Mike Powell joined as the Pine Breeder. Andy Cameron moved to Manager Pine Seed Production. Peter Cunningham was employed as Business Manager. Dr Boomsma remained the CEO and Mandy Rudd Office Manager.|
|2000||STBA approved the development of TREEPLAN and DATAPLAN software tools. The TREEPLAN software was a collaboration with the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit AGBU (university of New England) to design a genetic evaluation system using an individual mixed model BLUP on an industrial scale for forestry. The aim was to develop an industrial system that could routinely analyse data across time (unbalanced data) with many trials, environmental variation and complex pedigree structures. In order to undertake this evaluation routinely, a data management system was needed that could be integrated with the TREEPLAN engine, and DATAPLAN design commenced. DATAPLAN was to store all the breeding records and would be readily accessible to Members and staff as a web-based system.
The breeding programs moved from discrete cycle breeding (select new material after each generation is tested) to adopting a rolling front strategy (annually breed, establish trials, assess performance and undertake genetic evaluation), only possible through the development of TREEPLAN to run multiple analyses each year as needed.
||Seed production activities (radiata pine and blue gum) are considered commercial in nature and outside the sphere of a not-for-profit association. The existing seed orchards are licensed to a new commercial entity, with David Boomsma, Peter Gore and Andy Cameron leaving STBA and starting seedEnergy Pty Ltd. STBA will focus solely on genetic improvement with a vision to be recognised internationally as an innovative genetic improvement service provider with a reputation for product and service delivery. Four staff remain in STBA with Dr Tony McRae appointed General Manager, Dr Michael Powell as Pine Breeder, David Pilbeam as Eucalypt Breeder and Peter Cunningham as Business Manager. A new research project is commenced to define economic breeding objectives for radiata pine.|
||The first National TREEPLAN analyses are completed for Radiata Pine and Blue Gum, allowing a ranking of genetic material for use in breeding and deployment. The Blue Gum analysis includes the use of a Net Present Value (NPV$) index estimating the profit per hectare for each genotype against a base production level.
To diversify business revenues, a new segment known as Business Development and Technical Services is established to capitalise on STBA's latent assets and offset member costs.
|2004||STBA establishes PlantPlan Genetics Pty Ltd as a wholly owned subsidiary to offer commercial services. The STBA group provides genetic evaluation services (using TREEPLAN and DATAPLAN) in E. nitens to parties running their own breeding programs.|
|2005||STBA acquires land on the outskirts of Mount Gambier for a breeding and conservation arboreta. Known as the National Genetics Resource Centre, grants from the SA Government and Forest and Wood Products RDC assisted STBA in the purchase. Annual TREEPLAN analyses continue to provide estimated breeding values for decision making in breeding and deployment. For the first year, the radiata pine TREEPLAN analysis includes the use of an economic breeding objective to define the genetic worth of each genotype in NPV$ per hectare.
PlantPlan Genetics employs two geneticists in Hobart, Dr Gregory Dutkowski and Dr Richard Kerr, who will provide services to the STBA group and commercial clients. PlantPlan Genetics starts working with its first international client in Europe who adopt the TREEPLAN and DATAPLAN tools for use in their breeding programs.
|2006||Grant funds are received to assist STBA to develop a new suite of software tools for decision making around mate allocation (maximise gain while balancing diversity and inbreeding across generations), and deployment (seed orchard management and selection).|
|2007||TREEPLAN now used across 7 species. PlantPlan Genetics commences a research project to modify the TREEPLAN system for use in potatoes (POTATOPLAN). First pine crossing undertaken at the NGRC. DATAPLAN now houses more than 1,000 trials across species and STBA continues to invest in the software of both DATAPLAN and TREEPLAN to improve models, efficiencies and outcomes. About half of the groups revenues are now generated outside Member contributions as the business diversifies.|
||SEEDPLAN mate allocation tool is used for selection and crossing in the Pine and Blue Gum programs. Global Financial Crisis starts to impact Membership companies.|
||Peter Buxton replaces Dr Michael Powell as the Pine Breeder.
PlantPlan Genetics commences workshops to train people in advanced genetic analysis in Europe and Australia.
|2010||STBA establishes a new Royalties structure and Bylaw based on the NPV$ value for individual genotypes used in a seedlot. DATAPLAN now houses over 1350 genetics trials across 11 species with some 32 million measurements associated with more than 2 million genotypes. Another international client adopts the STBA software systems to assist their breeding program.
|2012||HQPlantations adopts STBA software tools (TREEPLAN and DATAPLAN) to assist it in managing its Southern Pine breeding program. TREEPLAN annual analyses for Pine and Blue Gum use 160 and 144 genetics trials respectively to generate national breeding and index values. A pilot analysis is undertaken using POTATOPLAN in Europe. Agreement reached to undertake a series of genetic evaluation trials with the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (NZ) with material from both breeding programs to be tested in both countries, commencing in 2013.|
||Western Australia public breeding program (Forest Products Commission) joins the Radiata Pine breeding program. Once their program data is merged with the STBA (2015), the benefits of cooperative breeding are clearly demonstrated (increased gains as a result of more data, broader based genetic material and higher selection intensities).|
||DATAPLAN reaches 100 million measurements. TREEPLAN services expand into China. STBA commences a research project to utilise a Single-step approach to routine genetic evaluation (incorporate phenotypic and genotypic observations) in a single TREEPLAN analysis. STBA commences a project to improve the tools used for tree breeding.
Dr Milos Ivkovich joins STBA as a Data Analyst and David McKersie as a Pine Technician.
|2018||A TREEPLAN Single-step genetic evaluation is undertaken in E. globulus, a first for the STBA group. The analysis used genomic data to compliment the existing phenotypic data and was successful in improving the breeding values produced.|
|2019||Tree Breeding Australia Ltd (TBA) commenced 1 July 2019 moving STBA from a state based association (Associations Incorporation Act 1985 - SA) to a national company limited by guarantee (Corporations Act 2001 - Cth). Existing STBA (6) and PlantPlan Genetics Pty Ltd (2) staff were transferred to TBA.|