Innovation in plant science protects soils to help combat desertification and drought

    17 June 2013

    On the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, CropLife Australia calls on policymakers around the world to renew their dedication to the advancement of research into sustainable agricultural practices that preserve water and soil; two of our most valuable resources.

    CropLife Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Cossey said today “We know that soil – and the organisms that reside within it – is a vital ingredient of sustainable agriculture. CropLife Australia and our members are dedicated to the research and development of technologies which enable sustainable farming practices, enhance farm productivity and support healthy soils and natural habitats.

    “Innovation in plant science is fundamental to a long term solution for combating desertification and drought. On this important World Day, we are reminded of the need for government, industry and the public research sector to work together to find innovative solutions that help the world’s farmers adapt to drier conditions and grow food more sustainably.

    “As caretakers of the land, farmers know that healthy soil delivers enormous benefits to the crops and livestock they raise. However, traditional intensive cultivation and land management practices can be hard on soil, reducing its quantity, quality and capacity to sustain life. With this in mind, the plant science industry has developed technologies and solutions – from novel crop protection products to seeds enhanced through biotechnology – that enable farmers to incorporate water efficient, soil-friendly, sustainable practices such as conservation ‘no-till’ farming.

    “In one study on the effects of long-term no-till cropping in the United States, researchers found that organic matter increased by as much as 1,800 pounds per acre per year. With an estimated 100 million hectares farmed using conservation tillage every year, the potential increase in organic material could tally as much as 445 billion pounds; enough to blanket over 670,000 hectares with an inch of extra topsoil every year. That is an area larger than London, Paris and Moscow combined.

    “Agriculture must find a way to meet the demands of a rising world population but do so in a way that protects and conserves natural resources such as soil and water. With continued investment in new solutions to bolster farm productivity and sustainability, we can help protect and improve today’s land for today’s farmers and future generations.

    “The plant science industry is committed to providing farmers with the technology and knowledge they need to optimise yields and increase water efficiency, and to continuing partnerships to help ensure these tools reach those who need it most”, concluded Mr Cossey.