The wealth of biodiversity below ground is vast and unappreciated: millions of microorganisms live and reproduce in a few grams of topsoil and these organisms are critical to soil health and fertility. Soil biological fertility is, however, the least well-understood soil fertility component. Soil microorganisms also play essential roles in the nutrient cycles that are fundamental to life on the planet. A better understanding of soil microbiology is essential if agricultural production is to sustainably meet the needs of a growing world population.
As an alternative to burning fossil fuels for energy production, natural processes such as ocean energy should be considered and developed as viable alternatives.
Large-scale industrial farming with a heavy reliance on chemical fertilisers is enabling agricultural to produce food on the scale necessary to feed the growing world population. It is also, however, degrading soil quality and the ever-increasing use of chemicals to support grossly over-harvested mono-cultures will never lead to environmental sustainability. Organic nutrient management has many environmental advantages but it currently has a productivity cost. What is the future of global agriculture?
As the effects of land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change become increasingly severe, soils have become one of the most vulnerable resources in the world. Soils, among other properties, are a major carbon reservoir containing more carbon than the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation combined. When managed wisely, it has the potential to sequester large amounts of carbon, thus promoting soil health, assisting food security and contributing to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.
Australia, as a signatory of the UN Revised World Soil Charter, recognised and endorsed the urgent need to promote worldwide sustainable soil management. Mr Noel Schoknecht provides a report card on the Government’s performance to date in meeting its Charter responsibilities.
There is an Agricultural Trend Toward Soil Biostimulants but are Farmers and Consumers Adequately Protected?
There is a growing, global industry in plant biostimulants, products that have the potential to improve agricultural sustainability and soil health while generating a significant boost to financial return. There is a concern, however, that Australian farmers are not being adequately protected from products that are unable to provide claimed benefits and that regulatory bodies are needed to provide this protection.
Rangelands constitute a significant proportion of the Earth’s total landmass and they sustain important ecosystems that are under an increasing environmental threat from climate change, habitat loss and soil degradation.
Detailed industry analysis has identified agriculture as one of the most promising fields for drone based applications. The ability for farmers to make sound business decisions based upon real-time high quality data that is available at a reasonable cost is essential to a successful modern agricultural enterprise. In Part Two of this FDI Associate Paper, Mr Geoff Trowbridge discusses in specific detail the benefits drones can provide to agriculture.
High technology, unmanned aerial systems or drones are increasingly moving from military to commercial applications and bringing with them changes that are revolutionising a broad range of industry sectors. In this two-part FDI Associate Paper, Mr Geoff Trowbridge of ScientificAerospace firstly discusses the general, high technology innovations drones are bringing to a wide range of applications and secondly the specific benefits drones can bring to agricultural production.