Articles on Agriculture

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New drought policy is designed to manage the risks climate change conditions pose to successful crop production in Western Australia. Flickr/Grevillea

Australia’s farming future: Western Australia

Climate change, and its associated variability, is posing a challenge for farm businesses in Western Australia. The grainbelt has experienced a 20% decline in rainfall over the last several decades, more…
You can’t grow chips like that on a Vertosol. Lenka Reznicek

The good earth: Thorpdale Red Ferrosol and chip potatoes

Australia has some of the world’s most ancient soils, many of which grow delicious produce. In this series, “The good earth”, soil scientist Robert Edis profiles some of those soils and the flavours they…
Cruel slaughter of Australian animals in countries where abattoir workers face poor economic conditions can only be stopped with the long-term ban of live exports. Flickr/Joe Shlabotnik

Cattle slaughter in topsy turvy land

In Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, Jo, one of the child adventurers, has a spell cast upon him that forces him to walk upside down on his hands in Topsy Turvy land. Jo survives the ordeal as most humans…
It makes sense to exercise caution when we’re fiddling with genes in food. Food Ethics Council

Securing the safety of genetic modification

Most genetically modified (GM) crops are based on moving DNA from one organism to another to introduce a new protein. Now a growing number of genetically modified crops are based on intentionally changing…

Pollination a fine-balancing act

Honey bees are thought to be the primary pollinators, but wild insects may be better. Two new studies, one published in Science…

Corn crops defeat acidic soil

Certain types of corn can grow in soil that would kill most plants. A genetic variation in certain strands of corn has meant…
Around the world, there are more than 20,000 bee species: this is Australia’s blue banded bee. Louise Docker

Modern agriculture is stressing honeybees: let’s go native

Honeybees are in trouble - a stressful lifestyle and an unhealthy diet are being compounded by mite attacks - but we needn’t panic about pollination. Australia has many native bee (and other pollinator…
Vaccination has a lot more uses than you may know. Stephen Mitchell

Explainer: how are vaccines used in Australian agriculture?

Approximately 140 vaccines are registered for use in livestock and companion animals in Australia. Many more animals are vaccinated each year than humans. Vaccines are used in farm animals: to protect…
Incidents of major agricultural run-off, like the recent Queensland floods, certainly affect Great Barrier Reef water quality, but systems are in place to reduce their effect. AAP Image/Twitter, ISS, Chris Hadfield

Worried about Great Barrier Reef water pollution? Look at mining, not agriculture

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is both a national marine park and a World Heritage Area. But next to the reef, a catchment of 400,000km2 is almost completely developed for agriculture, predominantly beef…

Moth detox trick is costing crops

Scientists have revealed the ‘evolutionary trick’ that makes the Diamondback moth such an expensive agricultural pest. The…
More and longer heat waves are coming, so researchers are making sure our crops are ready. Amy Mergard

Can crops withstand more heat waves?

Australia broke its “hottest day” record this week, and heat waves are becoming more common in Australia. Heat waves are projected to increase in duration and intensity with global warming and climate…
Christmas is a time of plenty - but to ensure we keep eating well in the future, it’s time to rethink the way we buy and produce food. Barbeque image from www.shutterstock.com

Eat, think, and be merry

As we gather to share a meal with friends and family this festive season, it is the ideal time to reflect on our relationship with food, including our dependence on those who grow it for us. Australians…
Foresters and farmers have an 8000-year history of dealing with climate variation and providing food and provisions - they may have climate change solutions. Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

Climate change action needs forests and farms working together

The UNFCCC COP-18 in Doha worked overtime to finally agree not to disagree. The Secretariat was quick to make a release that declares success and highlights four results: Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol…
As any barramundi fisher will tell you, northern Australia’s water isn’t going to waste. Justin Friend

Someone is already using northern Australia’s water: wildlife

With increasing pressure on Australia’s water resources, many have looked to northern Australia to provide water for agriculture, urban development and other human needs. Much of northern Australia is…
Australia’s food chain has among the lowest rates of antibiotic resistance, but new threats call for stronger monitoring. Eli Duke

The hunt is on for superbugs in Australian animals

Australia has some of the world’s most conservative restrictions on using antimicrobial drugs in livestock. Possibly as a consequence, we have some of the lowest rates in the world of antibiotic resistance…
Everyone seems nervous to talk about changing our diets. Sumlin/Flickr

Why aren’t we talking about meat and climate change?

Reducing your carbon footprint by eating less red meat rarely gets attention. This strategy has been recommended by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, epidemiologists writing in The Lancet and…
It may not be a silver bullet, but biochar has a lot to offer farmers (and the atmosphere). sillypucci/Flickr

Backing biochar: the Australian Government’s role

Evelyn Krull, a research scientist at the CSIRO, asked in these pages whether biochar could save the planet. Eighteen months have passed and although research efforts continue, still no meaningful quantities…

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