Nothing dominates the American landscape like corn. You can drive from central Pennsylvania all the way to western Nebraska, a trip of nearly 1, miles, and witness it in all its glory. No other American crop can match the sheer size of corn.
How will science address the challenges of the future? Written by luminaries and accompanied by two expert commentaries to ensure a broader perspective, these articles run fortnightly and focus on each of the major scientific areas.
In this final instalment, we examine our agricultural legacy. Food and agriculture are fundamental to human survival and it was the birth of agriculture and farming that laid down the basis for human civilisation.
Since the first crops were domesticated around 10, years ago, advances in agriculture have been intimately linked with human development and the growing world population.
Technology and innovation have underpinned those advances. Since the Green Revolution in the early s crop production has increased nearly two and a half times, from 1. Agriculture today is a very sophisticated and highly technical industry, and in Australia it has been one of our most innovative and efficient industries.
Our farmers have remained competitive in a global food market despite Australia having low levels of subsidies relative to our major competitors. The ability of this industry to adapt, innovate and form successful collaborations will continue to support a strong and prosperous Australia with sustainable food security.
Breeding and feeding For Australia, food security is inextricably linked to the political stability of our region and has the potential to affect our national security. The likelihood of a food crisis directly affecting Australia is remote given that we have enjoyed cheap, safe and high quality food for many decades and we produce enough food today to feed 60 million people — three times our current population.
Addressing the global food security problem will depend upon the development and delivery of technologies that lead to increased food production.
Being realistic about growth Our previous reliance on water and energy to drive up yields is not an option for the next phase of productivity gains. Agriculture has an excellent record of productivity growth over the past 50 years, allowing global production to meet the large population increase Agriculture growing our future essay, for countries such as Australia, these gains have kept food prices low while keeping farmers in business.
In particular, we have been able to maintain our position even though we produce food on the driest inhabited continent, on low quality soils and with continual climate variability.
We can now implement this capability to enhance agricultural production both in Australia and in our region. These strengths provide a solid foundation to catalyse transformation of the agricultural industries to address regional food security.
Australia can make a significant contribution to the task because we have extensive experience in dealing with difficult and low input productions systems.
Our record in applying this experience may not have been perfect but we are now making serious attempts to address our past omissions.
Indeed, we will have little choice given the predicted impact of climate change on our agricultural production regions. Off the farm and into the laboratory Our future in food production will lie within our current large scale farming systems where we have clear skills and where there is scope for increased efficiency rather than niche foods where high labour costs and low innovation make it hard for us to complete.
Over the next decade we will move to a scene where engineering and biology are intimately linked. Satellites will provide data on crop and rangeland health and productivity.
This information will be combined with ground data and used as the basis for farm management decisions.
This information will feed into the decisions made by breeders to develop new crop cultivars or animal breeds to optimise the use of available resources while minimising the environmental impact of farming. This move towards the utilisation of more specialist skills in agriculture is evident even today.
Nowadays research teams look very different to those of the past. If you were to set up a team today to develop a strategy to breed wheat with enhanced drought tolerance, your team will need to include software programmers, computer scientists, statisticians, crop physiologists, agronomists, cell biologists, pathologists, molecular biologists and geneticists.
Ideally you would also collaborate with climate scientists to understand the future production environments and help predict how your new varieties will perform. The expectations of these scientists is also changing: Farmers are already using computer models to assess the status of their soils, crops and farming systems to support their decision making.
In the future farmers will also be capturing data from even more diverse sources, linking this to genetic information and predictive climate models and using the result to help them decide when to sow their crops, when to apply fertilisers, how to protect crops from disease and when to harvest.
Investments and pay-offs Perhaps our greatest contribution to agricultural innovation will be through developing solutions to global food security challenges and delivering these solutions to partners around the world.
Our agricultural research capability has the potential to become a significant industry in its own right. Agriculture is among our most technologically advanced industries, yet most Australians are largely unaware of the revolution that is occurring on our farms.
Many would be both surprised and fascinated to know just how sophisticated agricultural science has become and the role it plays in delivering the strong and prosperous Australia of the future. Michael D'OcchioProfessor at University of Sydney The world is rapidly reaching the boundaries of agricultural land and the sustainable intensification of agriculture has emerged as a necessity to meet the increase in global demand for food.
Given the limits to natural resources the world simply cannot afford to sustain the loss of food that is caused by diseases of plants and animals. Intensification of food production tends to exacerbate the occurrence and impact of diseases, and climate variability and change has introduced another layer of complexity in the emergence and spread of diseases.
Indeed, the high biosecurity status of Australia ensures safe and healthy domestic food and gives Australia preferred status in global food markets.Jun 05, · As global warming puts stresses on farmers feeding a growing world population, financing to develop new crop varieties and new techniques has been slow to materialize.
Growing the Future essay series. Now more than ever we need to embrace innovation and new technologies, from the gene to the plate. Our Growing the Future essay series discusses new opportunities and challenges related to innovation in the agriculture and food sectors, both in Australia and internationally.
Abstract. The advent of agriculture has ushered in an unprecedented increase in the human population and their domesticated animals. Farming catalyzed our transformation from primitive hunter-gatherers to sophisticated urban dwellers in just 10, years.
During , agriculture sector exhibited a growth of percent on the back of positive growth in agriculture related sub sectors, Crops grew at percent, Livestock percent, Forestry percent and Fishing percent.
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives. Tips on Writing an Agriculture Term Paper. If you have been tasked by your proctor to write an agriculture term paper you should select an essay topic in the broad field of agriculture that you know something about.
Maybe you could write something on the growing of vegetables, or the making of milk and cheese.