Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces Vol. 240
Posted on: June 24th, 2015


This week’s quote comes from Director-General José Graziano da Silva’s address at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization biennial governing Conference. Mr Graziano da Silva’s statement recognised the effort made by countries in the near achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goal target and brought attention to the next steps that need to be made to stabilise food security.

“With the right policies, we can increase food security, adapt to and mitigate climate, but this will require a paradigm shift from the dominant input intensive approach to more sustainable and resilient food systems.”

Read the statement here: http://goo.gl/TzYrhz



Richard Eckard, Associate Professor in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science, who is also Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, explains the challenges faced by both scientists and producers who need to increase food production to feed a hungry planet, while transitioning farming to a sustainable footing.

The global population, currently growing at around 140 people per minute, is predicted to reach 8 billion by 2030, 9.1 billion by 2050 and possibly as high as 14 billion by 2100.

Predictions are that agriculture will need to increase production by between 60 and 80 per cent to meet this rising need by 2050, when an extra 2 billion people will require reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. And according to a 2009 report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation the number of food insecure people is estimated between 800 million to 1 billion, with a similar number suffering obesity.

The world’s middle class is also predicted to rise from around 2.5 billion to 4.9 billion over the same period. The need to feed an extra 2 billion people, coupled with the increased demand for higher quality food from the rising middle class presents a range of challenges for humankind.

Firstly, it is the humanitarian challenge to provide nutritional security for the resource-poor, particularly in developing countries.

Secondly, the rising middle class presents a major opportunity for Australian agriculture to meet the rising demand for food in higher value markets.

At the same time we are seeing a steady decline in agricultural productivity and the agricultural resource base. Some reasons for this include a steady decline in investment in agricultural research and development, as a proportion of agricultural GDP, and an increasingly urbanising population is leading to urban expansion into prime agricultural land.

In more affluent societies rural lifestyle properties are rapidly taking over agricultural land, and even with deforestation, the expansion of agriculture into new areas has plateaued. And even as available farmland shrinks, significant areas of what remains face some form of degradation, mainly from erosion, soil acidity and soil salinity. The UN Environment Program estimates that 25 per cent of the world’s food production may become lost due to environmental breakdown by 2050.

Short term climate variability – with more frequent and greater extremes – and longer-term climate change both poses a challenge and risk for intensification, and will increase competition for land in more reliable rainfall regions.

And finally the gap between potential and actual production is significant across a large proportion of farms, which provides both a challenge and an opportunity.

These factors combined mean we are left with no other option but to produce more food from less land while reducing soil degradation, use less water and fewer energy-rich inputs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all while negotiating a changing climate.

Some have called this unprecedented confluence of pressures the ‘perfect storm’ of food security.

Read more: http://goo.gl/TMrUYO



The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) – a non-profit consortium supported by founding members Etihad Airways , Boeing, and Honeywell UOP as well as more recent members Takreer , Safran and General Electric – broke ground and began construction of its integrated seawater, energy and agriculture facility at Masdar City.

At a ground-breaking ceremony, officials said that the demonstration project will use desert land irrigated by seawater to sustainably produce biofuel, bio-chemicals and food. The facility, which was designed with technical support from CH2M Hill, is expected to be completed before the end of 2015.

“This innovative research is tackling the challenge of harmoniously producing food and fuel in water- and arable land-constrained regions,” said Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar.

The project is also a reflection of Masdar City’s ecosystem that enables public and private partners to coalesce and advance sustainable solutions that have social and economic impact. This type of co-innovation is how we re-imagine what’s possible and take bold ideas to commercial reality.”

The pilot project is intended to run for three to five years, allowing researchers to learn more about the optimal operations and conditions to support the scalable production of bioenergy.

Dr. Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said, “The UAE and the world need renewable and sustainable fuels. That is why Masdar Institute is proud to be leading the SBRC and launching the Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System, which is more than an aviation biofuel production facility; it represents a holistic approach to sustainably produce food and bioenergy in a way that does not compete with fresh water and arable land. We are pleased to begin construction of the world’s first integrated seawater bioenergy pilot plant – a truly innovative project to mark the UAE’s Year of Innovation.”

James Hogan, President and CEO, Etihad Airways said, “Etihad Airways has a crucial role in helping Abu Dhabi diversify its economy, and one way we will achieve this is by supporting the development of sustainable, carbon-neutral and commercially viable aviation fuels. This pilot facility will help clarify this system as a viable option for the future.”

The 20,000 square-meter bioenergy pilot facility will include saltwater aquaculture ponds where fish and shrimp will be grown. Water from the ponds, including nutrient-rich waste produced by these fish, will be used to irrigate and fertilize salt-tolerant halophyte plants that will then be harvested and turned into aviation biofuel and other products. Flowing from the halophyte fields, the seawater will also nourish a wetland planted with mangroves – a plant that serves as a natural carbon sink to absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

Read more: https://goo.gl/8MyrJB



This week’s chart provides an insight into the trends which are likely to drive agricultural performance in future years. Technological innovations aiding farm management are expected to influence farming practices to the greatest extent. Precision farming promotes increased farm productivity while also providing investors with a more accurate future outlook and scope for rapid product development.

Read more: https://goo.gl/0P61ai





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