Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 368
Posted on: February 15th, 2018


The quote for Bits ‘n Pieces this week is taken from a Forum of the Future report, Future of Sustainability 2018:

“The internet of things, remote sensing, artificial intelligence and a revolution in robotics are coming together to make low-input, data-driven automated agriculture at scale a real possibility.”

The convergence of various technologies forms an important component of the future of agriculture especially given the dynamics of population growth, climate change and labour patterns. There is also an increasing awareness of the value of technological innovation plays in previously low-tech industries such as agriculture.

Source: Forum of the Future. Future of Sustainability 2018, pg. 12. No date.


“Qantas is using biofuel processed from Brassica carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, developed by Canadian agricultural-technology company Agrisoma Biosciences.

The flight is part of a partnership in which the two companies will work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.
“Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jet fuel industry in Australia — it is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations,” [said Qantas International chief executive, Alison Webster.]

The 15-hour trans-Pacific flight operated with about 24,000kg of blended biofuel, saving 18,000kg in carbon emissions. Across its life cycle, carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared with traditional jet fuel, according to Qantas.

“Biojet fuel made from carinata delivers both oil for biofuel and protein for animal nutrition while also enhancing the soil its grown in,” Agrisoma chief executive Steve Fabijanski said.

Carinata is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”. Rotational or break-crops can improve soil quality, reduce erosion for food crops and provide farmers with additional income.

One hectare of carinata seed yields 2000 litres of oil, which produces 400 litres of biofuel, 1400 litres of renewable diesel and 10 per cent renewable by-products.”

Source: Griffiths, Luke. The Australian. 29 January 2018.


“Elephants are afraid of bees. Of course a bee’s stinger can’t penetrate the thick hide of an elephant. But when bees swarm — and African bees swarm aggressively — hundreds of bees might sting an elephant in its most sensitive areas, the trunk, mouth and eyes. And they hurt. The threat of bees is so intensely felt by elephants that conservationists are using it to help prevent the kinds of conflict that put the behemoths at risk.

By stringing beehives every 20 meters — alternating with fake hives — a team of researchers in Africa has shown that they can keep 80 percent of elephants away from farmland.

[A]n Oxford University research associate, found that Asian elephants are also afraid of bees, though perhaps less so. It’s the first step toward showing that the control strategy can also work in countries like Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Thailand, where Asian elephants are 10 times more endangered than their African cousins.

In Africa, Save the Elephants, a nonprofit conservationist group, builds wire and beehive fences at a cost of about $1,000 for a one-acre farm — roughly one-fifth the cost of an electrified fence, said Dr. King, who also heads the human-elephant coexistence program for the charity. The farm gets protection against elephants and a modest new source of income from a twice-a-year honey harvest.

The fences also serve as a psychological barrier for the farmers, making them think twice before slashing and burning more forest for farmland, she said.

So far, the beehive fences are being used or tested in 11 countries in Africa and four in Asia, and the farmers seem to appreciate the approach, with more than 200 volunteering to participate in the last year.”

Source: Weintraub, Karen. The New York Times. 26 January 2018.


This week we show a summary of Australian agricultural commodity outlook for 2018. Strong investment flows are expected into Australian agriculture for the year, with a positive performance forecast for the sector, this according to Rabobank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2018. The bank anticipates a positive year for Australian agriculture overall, with many commodities experiencing improved market conditions, and the sector as a whole “reaping the benefits of a positive global environment”.