The main plant breeding research facility for the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is the Plant Breeding Institute, Cobbitty. There are three main groups based at the Institute - Cereal Rust, Plant Breeding and Horticulture - and these are all part of the Crop and Food Systems research group of the Faculty.
The Institute is mainly for plant breeding research and associated postgraduate teaching. It is part of the growing Camden campus of the University of Sydney and this allows close collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Science. The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is increasing its presence on the Camden Campus with the introduction of its Ecosystems Group being relocated from the Camperdown Campus. This group is currently located on the Cobbitty site and their expertise in both plant physiology and the environment can only assist our plant breeding programs and it is hoped for further collaboration between the groups especially in the genotype x environment interactions area.
By the early 1980’s, the facilities and space available at Castle Hill were limiting the scope and scale of work that could be undertaken. A decision to relocate the Institute was made in 1982 and a search for an appropriate new site was commenced. In 1988 after careful study of a number of alternative sites the PBI decided to purchase the University of Sydney properties “Karalee” and “Hildex” in Cobbitty, enabling integration with the University of Sydney Camden campus. After the sale of the Castle Hill site in January 1989, development of the Camden site was commenced. The new research laboratories and office complex were officially opened in September 1991.
This expansion lead to the growth of other plant breeding activities apart from cereal rust and the introduction of horticulture to the Institute. The activities of PBI have always evolved to meet the new challenges facing the world especially in regard to climate change.
The University of Sydney has made a commitment to the Camden Campus to develop it into a major biological, agricultural and veterinary centre of excellence.