Copy
 
 
 
 
 
ISSUE 14 | 14th April 2020
 
 
WEEKLY ALERT
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FROM THE CHAIR
 
 
 
 
URBAN AGRICULTURE – IS IT TIME TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK?

While there is much emphasis and rightly so on risk in agriculture (see previous Weekly Alert:
https://bit.ly/2VpnG3J), there is also incredible opportunity from the current pandemic.

Thank you to AIA members who have contacted me recently sharing their views on agriculture, consulting and advising, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of these have included insights into urban agriculture and asking what role should the AIA have in advocating this important aspect of agriculture. Others have shared their experience in working remotely. This is not uncommon for many professionals working in agriculture. In this column I am going to focus on urban farming, acknowledging that we will continue the discussion of remote working and the challenges and opportunities afforded by that mode of working. Of course, feel free to continue to send through your experience of remote working and advising in physical isolation.

From a broader sustainable development perspective, urban farming or more precisely perhaps, urban agriculture, is becoming a mainstream philosophy in the design and delivery of sustainable urban environments – that is, cities. Locally we see Costa from TV promoting urban agriculture. So, is urban agriculture a threat or a hyped-up side show?

Sustainable Development and Agriculture
Some of the recent work I have been involved with includes examining the integral role that agriculture plays in bringing the importance of farming and regional life to the city. This is more important than ever as city communities are more becoming more and more dislocated from their sources of food.

Rapid urbanisation all over the world poses a serious question about urban sustainability in relation to food – where it comes from, how it gets to people, and what happens to the waste. Urban agriculture can contribute to feeding city dwellers as well as improving metropolitan environments by providing more green space (
https://bit.ly/2xreCDo).  

Australia is recognised as one of the most urbanised countries in the world, and achieving urban sustainability should be high on the policy and planning agenda. A strong consensus exists among policymakers that urban agriculture could be a tenable way of enhancing urban sustainability, and therefore, it should be a vital part of planning processes and urban design as administered by local and state governments. However, in recent decades, planning has overlooked and failed to realise this opportunity. 

In city region food systems, agriculture in peri-urban areas and rural areas is critical to the supply of food to urban centres, and contributes to employment, livelihoods, nutrition and environmental resilience. This is according to a study from five years ago released by the FAO on Latin America’s experience (
https://bit.ly/34wsPLg).  The “city region” scale is seen as a sustainable, manageable spatial unit for integrating food production with other ecosystem services and providing social protection for the rural and urban poor. In Latin America and the Caribbean, per-urban agriculture includes large farming areas that produce cereals, vegetables and root crops, grazing land for goats and sheep, dairy farms, and intensive livestock production units. The study refers to an area of 22 800 ha of farmland within the bounds of Mexico City producing annually 15 000 tonnes of vegetables. On the outskirts of Lima, short-cycle vegetables are grown on some 5 000 ha of irrigated land for sale in the city’s markets. Small-scale farming is a source of income for settlers from rural areas and many of Lima’s urban poor.  In Argentina, the production of soybean for export has displaced peri-urban production of milk, fruit and vegetables. Despite its role in creating employment and feeding cities, peri-urban agriculture is under increasing pressure from urbanisation itself in Latin America.

As part of the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a general consensus that the SDGs should include; eradicating hunger and poverty, increasing agricultural production sustainably and improving food systems, and building sustainable cities that provide food security, economic opportunity and a healthy environment, and to build strong links to peri-urban and rural areas. The city region food system or urban agriculture offers a point of convergence for achieving all of those (SDG) goals. Empowering individuals and communities to grow more of their own food is a vital strategy to help address and mitigate the major challenges of 21st century urbanisation.

Vertical farming, a distinct type of urban agriculture, can potentially change the global food production landscape. This is the claim of recent winners of the Nuffield Scholarship (
https://www.nuffieldinternational.org). While the advantages are clear, profitability is still difficult to achieve. Many new businesses suffer once their seed money dries up. One of the Nuffield Scholar argues that “Vertical farming is still farming; therefore, the produce must be sold at the same price levels as products grown in an open field where the light, air, soil and water are almost free. Controlling each and every variable comes at a cost. The high capital and operational costs (electricity and labour) force companies to scale up in order to achieve profitability or focus on higher margin crops”.

The possibility of being close to the point of consumption is another huge point in favour of urban agriculture and vertical farms. There is a clear market tendency towards foods with lower carbon miles, as well as organic produce. It is hard to predict whether urban farms will help feed the world, however, the necessity for fresh, safe, dependable food will always exist. 

For those with concerns about the risks from urban farming, I read a recent article that shows that researchers are exploring this in a similar way to which contaminated site experts investigate land transactions and the risks from previous industrial activity (
https://bit.ly/2XwA9VL). While important, it is not central to making urban agriculture mainstream.

I read a quote from a recent forum on urban agriculture and I think it encapsulates a very sound view on the topic:
“Much of our needed expertise is here, and [the questions are] just how to coordinate this better so as to ensure a more expansive focus by government; and how do we lift the profile of these actions into the public, media and government discourse?”

Questions for Professionals in Agriculture and Food Production and Policy Makers;
•    What are the ramifications of moving selected agriculture production into urban and per-urban areas (over and above current planning guidelines)?
•    Are there strategic advantages of an urban production system for particular sectors that enable greater competition in global markets? How is this decommoditised approach to production integrated with conventional commodity-focused agricultural production?
•    Does an intensive approach to urban agriculture e.g. vertical farming, negate the social and community benefits of a more traditional, non-intensive approach?
•    What policy changes should States and the Federal Government consider given the main stream adoption of sustainable development (and SDGs) in society?
What about you? What are your thoughts as a professional in agriculture?



Turlough Guerin CAg
chair@aginstitute.com.au
0439 011 434

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
INSTITUTE NEWS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE ROLE OF SCIENCE IN AGRICULTURAL CLIMATE MITIGATION
 
 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
WATER TRADING – VICTORIA AIA DIVISION LUNCH WEBINAR 
 
 
To be held on Tuesday 5th May from 12pm – 1:30pm AEST, this month’s AIA Victorian Division lunch webinar talk features Bruce Diffey.

Bruce has a thirty-year background as a tobacco, beef, peppermint, capsicum and blueberry farmer in the King Valley, Victoria. Bruce’s farming background and experience with irrigation management provided him with the knowledge to commence his trading water business in 2000, Waterwheel Traders, which specialises in: 
•    River Transfer Regulated and Unregulated - Victoria
•    Groundwater Transfers
•    Regulated Allocation Permanent Trades
•    Murray Irrigation NSW Temporary Trades
•    Murray River NSW Temporary and Permanent Trades

Join us to hear Bruce take us through the industry and the current challenges facing farmers with reduced water allocations. Contact Bill Lewis for the webinar link: M 0417 146 800, E
bill@welewis.com.au.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OTHER NEWS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BUREAU RELEASES LATEST DROUGHT STATEMENT
 
 
March rainfall was somewhat below average for Australia as a whole, according to the latest Drought Statement from the Bureau of Meteorology.

However, rainfall was above average along a band from the inland Kimberley, through the southern NT and southwest Queensland, much of NSW and northern Victoria, and Tasmania. 
 
 
  Read More  
 
 
 
 
INAUGURAL SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND NVT HARVEST REPORT
 
 
The inaugural Southern Queensland NVT Harvest Report provides the latest independent varietal information on yield, quality, and disease ratings, from the 2019 NVT program as soon as possible after release.

This is one of 16 harvest reports produced nationally by the NVT program. You can find the 15 other harvest reports from regions around Australia 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GRDC UPDATE PROCEEDINGS ONLINE
 
 
GRDC has published the proceedings from the recent GRDC Update events, with information for both growers and advisers.

Most recent topics include new technologies, climate change, cereal pathology, soil water and more. 
 
 
  Read More  
 
 
 
 
FURY UNLEASHED ON YELLOW CRAZY ANTS
 
 
A pure-bred Labrador named Fury has joined the front-line protecting Australia’s Wet Tropics, becoming the first in the world trained to detect yellow crazy ants.

The ants are a serious environmental and agricultural threat, listed among the world’s most invasive species and after a year of training Fury has graduated to be the first capable of identifying their nests
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GENETIC DIVERSITY IMPROVES YIELD IN HYBRID CROP VARIETIES
 
 
Researchers from UWA’s Institute of Agriculture and University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have discovered that high levels of genetic diversity and dominant genes in grain crops such as wheat, barley or rice leads to the production of greater yields in hybrid varieties.

The study, published in
Scientific Reports, used computer simulation to study how genetic diversity affected the yield of hybrid varieties in self-pollinating crops 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
RESEARCH TO INVESTIGATE NEW PINEAPPLE BREEDS
 
 
New pineapple varieties which grow more reliably and predictably are being developed in a University of Queensland-led project that will benefit farmers and industry.

The new research will aim to help Australia’s pineapple farming industry, by developing a breed of pineapple resistant to premature flowering 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NEW REPORT EXPLORES LIVESTOCK SECTOR FUTURE
 
 
Animal Health Australia (AHA) has commissioned a report on the Megatrends, Opportunities and Challenges Facing Australian Livestock Industries. 

The report provides insights into global megatrends and explores four possible mega-shock scenarios that could impact the future productivity and profitability of our livestock sectors over the next 10 years, through the lenses of animal health and biosecurity 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
COVID-19 MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRESH PRODUCE SECTOR
 
 
PMA A-NZ have produced general guidance to assist producers of fresh produce to plan for and mitigate the risks posed by the virus causing COVID-19 to their employees, their business, and the supply of fresh produce to consumers. 

This includes protecting the health and safety of employees, families, and the broader community, and ensuring the ongoing supply of fresh produce to Australian and New Zealand consumers. 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
DEVICE MEASURES RIPENESS OF FRUIT STILL ON TREE
 
 
A non-invasive tool that can determine the ripeness of fruit while still on the tree, eliminate produce waste through manual maturity testing and provide insights into the most efficient use of labour is modernising the way tree crop growers harvest.

The project sees high-resolution satellite imagery combined with data from hand-held fruit-scanning devices to better map variations in tree health, crop yield and fruit maturity. 



Professor Kerry Walsh testing dry matter in mango with the F-750 meter.
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
PASTURE SEED INDUSTRY COLLABORATES TO IMPROVE HARVESTING
 
 
Innovative design modifications to a Horwood Bagshaw clover seed harvester is the first step to bringing subterranean clover and annual medic harvesting methods rapidly into the 21st century.

Ultimately, the UWA researchers aim to improve on 60-year-old harvesters that are labour intensive and travel at just a few kilometres per hour. 

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OTHER EVENTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
APPLY FOR GRDC REGIONAL PANELS
 
 

Applications have now opened for positions on the GRDC’s three regional panels representing the principal cropping zones across Australia – northern, southern and western regions.

Positions are effective from 1st September and applications close on 15th April. Find more information about what is involved and how to apply 

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
GET INVOLVED IN AIR FREIGHT INVESTMENT DECISIONS
 
 
An International Freight Coordinator-General has been appointed to support the agriculture and seafood sector to deal with current air freight constraints. 

This includes $110 million to ensure air freight capacity remains open for critical markets. A survey is open to help best guide this investment
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FREE PLANT SCIENCE WEBINARS 
 
 

Plantae, a crowdsourced initiative powered by The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), is for everyone in the plant science community. 

The organisation is running a series of free webinars, with the next one on 15th April featuring Detlef Weigel and Recmo Stam

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
APPLY FOR LAND RESTORATION FUNDING
 
 

Queensland landholders, land managers and farmers interested in developing a new carbon farming project (or interested in entering the carbon farming industry) are invited to apply for the Land Restoration Fund.

As part of their application, eligible applicants must be willing to undertake a project based on an approved carbon farming method and enter into a
commercial contract. The second intake closes on 15th April 

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
COVID-19: JOY OF FRESH CAMPAIGN ROUNDTABLE
 
 
PMA have put together a variety of tools you can use to launch a consumer-facing campaign to draw attention to the importance — and safety — of buying and consuming fresh produce at this time.

In a 60-minute virtual round-table on 16th April, Chief Marketing Officer at PMA, Lauren Scott, will lead a discussion outlining the resources that PMA have created to launch consumer-facing campaign tackling the issues from COVID-19. 

 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
SHEEP INDUSTRY WEBINARS UNDERWAY
 
 
In this special one-hour webinar, veterinarian and sheep producer, Dr. Noel O'Dempsey will talk all things vaccinations, worms, lice and flies. 

This health webinar is one of a 10-part series aimed at giving new and aspiring producers a step up into the sheep industry. It will be on 16th April 


 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
JOIN DISCUSSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW
 
 
A discussion paper has been released to commence the second independent review of Australia’s primary national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, also known as the EPBC Act.

The discussion paper is intended to start a conversation about the EPBC Act, and the changes needed to ensure it is fit to handle current and future environmental challenges – have a say by close of business 17th April 2020 

 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
SUBMISSIONS ON NATURAL DISASTER ARRANGEMENTS EXTENDED
 
 
In accordance with the Federal Government’s health advice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements is working to adjust its operations. 

In light of the reduced community forum schedule, the Commission will extend the public submission period by two weeks to 17th April 2020
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SUPPORT FOR QUEENSLAND AGRIBUSINESS EXPORTERS 
 
 
Applications are open for a $500,000 industry grants package to support Queensland agribusiness exporters directly affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Market Diversification and Resilience Grants support agriculture, food and fishing exporters, their critical supply chain partners and industry organisations, to build resilience by diversifying into new markets. Applications for equipment and projects grants close 20th April 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
BACK TO BUSINESS WEBINAR SERIES TO HELP LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS
 
 
The BACK TO BUSINESS webinars are for all livestock producers impacted by drought, fire, flood, storms and global challenges. 

BACK TO BUSINESS will feature a different topic at 1:00 pm Tuesday each week that is relevant to getting you back to business following the recent and ongoing challenges. The next is on 21st April on livestock health, welfare and biosecurity during rebuild 

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FARM BIODIVERSITY SCHEME ONLINE FORUMS
 
 
In 2019 the Australian Government announced funding for the implementation of an Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme, which aims to reward farmers for managing biodiversity on farm. 

A series of online forums will identify critical success factors that will be required for implementation of biodiversity schemes in Australia. The next is focused on the Gippsland, and will be on 23rd April 

 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
SA SCIENCE AWARDS OPEN
 
 
The SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards showcase the critical importance of science, research and innovation to the development of industry and society as a whole. 

The Awards recognise the work of inspiring Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) leaders and teams working in research and education institutions, schools, industry and the community. Nominate by 24th April 

 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AG TECHNOLOGIES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA SURVEY
 
 
The SA State Government, through the guidance and advice of the AgTech Advisory Group, is creating an AgTech strategy for South Australia to encourage greater uptake of technology on-farm to increase productivity and profitability.

This survey is the first step in putting together a blueprint to make South Australia a leader in AgTech. Survey closes at 5pm, 24th April 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
NOMINATE FOR PMA A-NZ TECH INNOVATION AWARD
 
 
The inaugural PMA Australia-New Zealand Tech Innovation Award is a celebration of businesses that have implemented technology focussed innovation in the Australia or New Zealand fresh produce sector.

The Award is open to any individual or team and can come from any part of the value chain
– any stakeholder from seed to shelf is eligible. Apply by 24th April 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SUBMISSIONS REQUESTED FOR LIVESTOCK SUPPLY CHAIN REVIEW
 
 
The SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards showcase the critical importance of science, research and innovation to the development of industry and society as a whole. 

The Awards recognise the work of inspiring Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) leaders and teams working in research and education institutions, schools, industry and the community. Nominate by 24th April 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
WEBINAR: FUTURE OF FOOD – BEYOND THE HYPE 
 
 
Future of Food - beyond the hype: what more do businesses need to be doing to achieve a sustainable, nutritious and affordable protein system? 

This webinar is relevant for anyone operating in the food industry, particularly for sustainability professionals or those with a focus on nutrition, sourcing, innovation or strategy. It will be on 28th April, 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LANDCARE WILDLIFE RELIEF & RECOVERY GRANTS
 
 
The Landcare Australia and WIRES partnership implements immediate response, recovery and resilience building projects for wildlife in bushfire and drought impacted communities across Australia.

The grants program will provide networks and groups additional support to coordinate and fund projects to maximise recovery efforts and strengthen outcomes for wildlife. Apply by 30th April 
 
 
  Read more  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
image
 
About
 
Ag Institute Australia is the peak industry body for agricultural and natural resource management professionals. Ag Institute Australia is committed to advancing the profession, and the application of science and technology, for the sustainable development of agriculture and natural resource management in Australia.
 
 
 
Follow Us
 
 
fb  
 
fb  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Contact
 
PO BOX 576 Crows Nest NSW 1585
aginstitute.com.au
(02) 9431 8657
admin@aginstitute.com.au
 
 
 
 
 
© Ag Institute Australia 2019. All right reserved.
 
Unsubscribe here Manage your subscription
 
 






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Ag Institute Australia · PO Box 576 · Crows Nest, Nsw 1585 · Australia