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Eat greener greens, they’re better for the planet. thebittenword.com/flickr

Organic farming techniques are closing gap on conventional yields

The unintended consequences of our agricultural food system – polluted air and water, dead zones in coastal seas, soil erosion – have profound implications for human health and the environment. So more…
Australian farmers apply nearly a million tonnes of nitrogen-based fertilisers every year. Pete Hill/Flickr

Meet N2O, the greenhouse gas 300 times worse than CO2

When we talk about greenhouse gases we usually talk about carbon dioxide. When media reports depict climate change, we invariably see the cooling towers of a coal power station. Which is fair, because…
Honeybees pollinate a third of Australia’s food crops. Losing them due varroa might would cost the economy billions of dollars. David McClenaghan

Australian farmers face increasing threat of new diseases: report

A nationwide outbreak of foot and mouth disease; an invasion of a devastating wheat disease; our honeybees completely wiped out. These are just three possible disastrous scenarios facing Australia; they’re…
Tractors may have revolutionised farming but to protect biosecurity, farmers could do with some extra help. Ben McLeod/Flickr

Go with the grain: technology to help farmers protect crops

New technology to tackle biosecurity challenges down the track is one of the five megatrends identified in today’s CSIRO report Australia’s Biosecurity Future: preparing for future biological challenges…
Cattle bound for live export in the Northern Territory. AAP Image/Grenville Turne

More cattle will suffer under Australia-China live export deal

The number of animals exported live out of Australia is set to increase as Australia prepares to enter into a A$1 billion trade agreement with China. Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce has claimed up to…
Canary grass is an invasive plant, but new varieties are still being developed for pasture. Stuart Hay

Feed or weed? New pastures are sowing problems for the future

Weeds cost Australian farmers around A$4 billion every year — and they are likely to do a similar amount of damage to the environment. In a new global survey published this week in Proceedings of the National…
Air pollution is harming India’s wheat farmers. EPA

Want to feed the world? Tackle pollution from ozone and soot

Researchers have long known that man-made climate change will harm yields of important crops, possibly causing problems for the world’s food security. But new research shows air pollution doesn’t just…
The Ord River dam, completed in 1971, formed Australia’s largest artificial lake in the far north west. Graeme Churchard/Flickr

Dams are not the smart way to secure water for agriculture

Some 27 irrigation and dam projects are highlighted in the green paper for agricultural competitiveness released this week by agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce. Six of the projects – five in Tasmania…
In 2012 and 2013 parts of New Zealand suffered the worst drought in 70 years. Dave Young/Flickr

New Zealand is drying out, and here’s why

Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years. Drought is the costliest climate extreme in New Zealand; the 2012-2013 event depressed the country’s GDP by…
Farmers delivering by bicycle at Chandamale milk station in southern Malawi. Cesar Revoredo-Giha

You won’t help farmers in Africa by just throwing money at them

Governments and donors have tried hard to improve dairy farming in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. Many recognise that it has much potential to boost the economic situation of poor farmers in the region…
A male Onthophagus vacca, the species of dung beetle being released this week in Western Australia. CSIRO

French beetles flown in to clean up Australia’s cattle dung

The average cow drops between 10 and 12 dung pads (also known as “pats”) every day and just one of those cow pads can produce up to 3,000 flies in a fortnight. With more than 28 million cattle in Australia…
Australia’s dairy sector will lose out due to Russian sanctions, but there are bigger issues in play. Anatoly Maltsev/AAP

Russian sanctions are the least of our agriculture sector’s problems

Russia’s targeting of $A400 million of Australian food exports and the government’s muddled response are just the latest setback for a sector struggling under failed policy approaches. Agriculture is Australia’s…

Biofortified lentils may help prevent disease

Increasing the concentration of selenium in lentil seeds may help prevent a global deficiency of the essential mineral. Researchers…
Right idea, wrong execution: the Ord River irrigation scheme needed better surrounding infrastructure. isthatdave/Wikimedia Commons

To grow agriculture in Australia, farmers need to think like miners

It’s perhaps fitting that mining magnate Andrew Forrest is in the vanguard of a move to position Australia as a major food supplier to China. Fitting, because if the plan is to work, Australian agriculture…
The polar vortex played havoc with Niagara Falls (and much of the rest of North America too). EPA/Rick Warne

The ‘pre-Holocene’ climate is returning – and it won’t be fun

A string of events earlier this year provided a sobering snapshot of a global climate system out of whack. Europe suffered devastating floods, Britain’s coastline was mauled, and the polar vortex cast…

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