Scientists want fund to develop ‘digital paddocks’ and wipe out pests

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture, Australia

© iStock
© iStock
Australia’s leading agricultural scientists have called on the public and private sectors to establish a A$100m (US$76m) agriculture fund to future-proof Australian farmers against looming shocks like climate variability and disease outbreaks. 

The recommendation is part of a 10-year strategic plan mooted by the Australian Academy of Science. 

Jeremy Burdon, chair of the academy’s committee for agriculture, fisheries and food, said that a new research translation fund would fast-track investment in the most promising areas of Australian research. 

This would in turn give a boost to the economy by developing new and improved agricultural products and services, he added. 

The 10-year plan focuses on harnessing emerging technologies to create “digital paddocks​” that draw on a range of data sources to optimise planting, water, fertilisers and herbicides. 

It also suggests ways to defend Australian agriculture in the face of threats from invasive species and plant and animal diseases.

If the status quo is maintained, Australia will be unable to marshal well-coordinated research teams to prepare for and respond to these kinds of shocks​,” said Dr Burdon. 

Such threats could also hamper official plans to turn agriculture into a A$100bn sector by 2025.

Dr Burdon said that Australia continues to lack coordination in agricultural research and innovation, and suffers from “a culture of competition over collaboration​”. 

“The scientific and research community must form stronger partnerships across sectors and industries, focusing on better-integrated global data, modelling and analytical capacities, to better respond to new opportunities and prepare for major threats to agricultural production.

Related topics: Policy, Oceania, Industry growth

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1 comment

big brother?

Posted by Laurel,

dont think many farmers I know inc myself would be so pleased to have invasive govvy access to our lives and land. bad enough now with greentard regs. worried re invasive species? then STOP defunding AQUIS!!and restore fumigation of containers in ports. and the all this tech costs hugely and needa maintaining
another burden on the smaller battling people.
all this sounds so nice IF your in an office and involved in IT and not OUT in the dirt n heat working the soil personally. we still cant get funding to kill bloody rabbits!!! or pest plants NOW
money be better spent doing real work not unicorn fart chasing

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