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Using enabling technologies to meet demands for food security and sustainability

  • Year: 2013
  • Author: Peter Stoutjesdijk and Jose ten Have
  • Publisher: Department of Agriculture ABARES
  • Country: Australia
This report examines how biotechnology, nanotechnology and information and communications technology could be used to increase crop production and its sustainability in Australia. The report was commissioned by the Department of Agriculture under the Commonwealth Government's National Enabling Technologies Strategy.

The report finds that genetic modification and modern plant breeding techniques have the potential to increase the ability of crops to resist pests and diseases, resist competition from weeds, cope with suboptimal soil or environmental conditions and use nutrients more efficiently. Crops with these improved characteristics will require fewer external inputs, such as insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers, and this will increase the sustainability of farming systems and the environment. Nanotechnology in the agriculture sector has potential applications in pesticide (insecticide, herbicides) delivery, fertiliser delivery and enhancing crop growth. The technology could also be used in biosensing and remediation of agricultural soils. However, most nanotechnology applications in agriculture are still in the research and development phase.

Until relatively recently, information and communications technology has not been specifically applied to agriculture. Since the high accuracy signal of the Global Positioning System became available to the general public in 2000, the application of precision agriculture technologies has increased. Precision agriculture offers benefits particularly in the areas of more efficient fertiliser and pesticide application in cropping. It also offers sustainability and financial benefits.

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