11 May 2023
The moral imperative of delivering food and nutritional security for all requires growing more food more sustainably as well as reducing food loss and waste at every stage of production and consumption.
It is only through the innovations developed by the plant science industry that farmers can implement the modern, sustainable farming practices that are required to feed the world. These tools allow farmers to grow more with less and improve the sustainability of their local environment while also reducing the need for more land to be diverted to food production. This not only protects unique natural environments around the world but also avoids the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the deforestation otherwise required to increase global food production.
Closer to home, these tools allow Australian farmers to live out the closely held value of ensuring the land they steward is handed on in better shape than when they started farming it.
The impact of innovations, like crop protection products and new crops that are enabled by biotechnology can be seen in global yield increases. Cereals such as wheat, corn and rice have increased yields from just under two tonnes per hectare in 1960 to around six tonnes per hectare today. That is over three times as much food from the same amount of land.
To put this into perspective, had global crop yields remained at 1961 levels, an additional 1.5 billion hectares of land would have been converted from native forests, nature reserves and grasslands to cultivated agricultural land just to feed ourselves.
Reducing crop losses and food wastage is also crucial to maximise the use of arable land and manage the finite resources required to grow them.
Weeds, insect pests and diseases can destroy 30-40 per cent of a crop, either by eating it before it can be harvested, or by disease infection during transport and storage which renders the crop unpalatable or unsafe for eating. In Australia alone, without the ability for farmers to use crop protection products, almost three-quarters of the value of the food produced would vanish, resulting in foods like strawberries completely disappearing from Australian store shelves.
This edition of CropLinks celebrates the contributions of the plant science industry in protecting the significant gains of the Green Revolution and also the future technologies and innovations that will underpin our next agricultural revolution; growing more with less and protecting the environment.
Read more of the Winter 2023 Edition of CropLinks here: CropLife Australia | CropLinks Winter 2023