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A conceptual variable-rate fertilization system that would use sensors to determine how much fertilizer to apply in real-time. R Sui and J A Thomasson

Farmers of the future will utilize drones, robots and GPS

Precision agriculture harnesses technology to help farmers grow more food using less water, fertilizer, pesticide, fuel and labor.
Farming makes a huge contribution to global greenhouse emissions, mainly through methane from livestock. Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons

Meat the future: new book sets out the effects of the world’s diet

Meat uses a lot of resources - between three and ten times as much as plants for the same amount of protein. The rich world might be slowly losing its taste for meat, but the developing world isn't.
Put innovative farming techniques in the right hands. CGIAR Climate

Yes, Africa will feed itself within the next 15 years

Africa will be able to feed itself in the next 15 years. That’s one of the big “bets on the future” that Bill and Melinda Gates have made in their foundation’s latest annual letter. Helped by other breakthroughs…
Mountain Pygmy Possum numbers are declining due to environmental changes, including earlier snow melt. AAP/Tim Arch/DSE

Early birds: how climate change is shifting time for animals and plants

Every Spring, the blanket of Australian alpine snow starts to melt, and the Mountain Pygmy Possum wakes up from its seven-month-long hibernation. Naturally after so long under the snow, its first thought…
Harvesting a crop or mining the soil by taking out more than we return? Flickr/Cyron

The supply chain in farming – do we count all the assets?

Most people understand the idea of a supply chain so that, for example, to make a car you need many thousands of different car components for assembly at the factory. If any of those components are no…
Rabbits can strip grasslands bare and chew through young woody trees. John Schilling/Flickr

The rabbits of Christmas past: a present that backfired for Australia

On Christmas Day 1859, the Victoria Acclimatisation Society released 24 rabbits for hunting, to help settlers feel more at home. Given the millions of dollars in damage to agricultural productivity that…
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…
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…

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