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Prepare for new farming revolution, CSIRO says

Posted on Mar 21, 2010 by Clean Seed Capital

Australia's peak scientific body, farmers and supermarkets say they are gearing up for a new Green Revolution.

In 50 years the world's population will be more than nine billion people, supplies of fertiliser could be severely depleted, and competition for land will have increased.

According to CSIRO scientist Peter Carberry, these factors, combined with climate change, will challenge our agriculture industry like never before.

Mr Carberry is deputy director of the CSIRO's Sustainable Agriculture Flagship, established by the Federal Government earlier this year to reduce the carbon footprint of Australia's land use, while boosting productivity.

He says we are facing an agricultural revolution similar to the Green Revolution that followed World War II.

"The first Green Revolution was a revolution that was essential to feed the world's population at the time. We have to do it again, but the parameters have changed, which makes it a challenge for science," he said.

He says population growth and increased wealth in countries such as China and India mean there are new and increased demands for food.

Supply issues such as land degradation and the growth of biofuels will also play a role.

"As we go forward it's a much greater challenge to think about maintaining productivity levels when you have issues around limited resources," he said.

"So our second Green Revolution has to be built on increasing our resources' efficiency, getting much greater productivity out of the inputs we use, [while being] conscious of our environment.

"So it is absolutely a challenge as we go into the future, and much more so a challenge than faced in the past."

Mr Carberry says climate change cannot be ignored when discussing the agricultural revolution.

"It's all about risk management isn't it? The sceptics about climate change talk about whether they believe the projections or whether it's human induced," he said.

"But the fact that the majority of the scientists say that there is some risk of human-induced climate change suggests that it's one of the parameters that one must look at when we're planning for the future."

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship is running a number of research projects, breeding new varieties of disease-resistant grain and rice, and developing technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.

Mr Carberry says another concern for scientists is the availability of fertilisers going into the future.

"There's that pressure on land as well as issues such as the availability of fertilisers going into the future, such as phosphorus - so we're reaching peak phosphorus [usage] and our access to ready fertilisers is going to decline in the future," he said.

But he says the huge task of feeding the world over the coming decades is achievable.

"It's not a challenge that science or humanity is saying is impossible," he said.

"There are technologies on the horizon and opportunities to further increase our productivity from the existing resource base and new technologies."

Optimistic

 

Farmer Jamie Jurgens grows sugar cane, tomatoes and capsicums on his family-owned farm near Bowen in north Queensland.

He says new technologies introduced to the industry in the last 10 years have changed the way he farms, and is optimistic the industry will tackle the food security challenge.

"We're growing better varieties, higher yielding varieties and through our better soil management our yields are getting more sustainable," he said.

"The biggest thing in our industry is sustainability. I think through the new reef regulations hopefully some of the people that aren't doing the right practices now get into that, and are forced, or are helped, into becoming more sustainable and keeping the actual organic life left in our soil."

Mr Jurgens says a generational change in the industry has meant new ways of farming have been embraced.

"In the last 20 years, land-wise, our agriculture has gone through a large expansion. We've opened up a lot of new land and a lot of that land was quite fertile. Then we go producing crops on it, and it becomes less fertile," he said.

"As we get more conscious of the environment and our biodiversity - I think the newer generations have actually grown with that in mind and a lot of the attributes they have now are looking after the soil and the water and everything like that too.

"There's some good technologies at the moment coming into our industry."

Food security is a serious issue for supermarkets too. In February this year, Woolworths Limited announced a $3.25 million plan to invest in sustainable agriculture in Australia.

Woolworths Limited chief executive Michael Luscombe says organisations such as Woolworths need to adopt a leadership role to secure long-term food availability.

"Higher input costs, a rising population and climate change all have the potential to impact the food we eat, which is why industry must assist our farmers to adapt and thrive," he said.

NewSeed Advisors Says Sustainable Agriculture is the New Cleantech Source:

Posted on Mar 17, 2010 by Clean Seed Capital in Agriculture,Investment

Clean Seed Capital Group is pleased to announce it will be attending the Agriculture 2.0. conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, California.

A flurry of activity among Bay Area investors points to surging interest in sustainable agriculture investment. On March 24, hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts will convene at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, California for Agriculture 2.0, the first event of its kind on the west coast. Firms sending delegates include Kleiner Perkins, Khosla, Black River, Foundation Capital, Venrock, Mohr Davidow, Rockport, Redpoint, Flagship, Slow Money Alliance, among others. “Creating a sustainable food system will happen one company at a time. It’s encouraging to see that investors are taking notice of this space, the fastest-growing niche in agriculture.” says Janine Yorio, Managing Director of NewSeed Advisors. As co-host, US Venture Partners is securing its place as a thought-leader in sustainable agriculture, “Because feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050—without destroying the planet—poses both a daunting problem and an enormous investment opportunity,” remarked Paul Matteucci. Co-hosts NewSeed Advisors and SPIN Farming also launched the first Agriculture 2.0, which was held in September 2009 in New York City. The overwhelming response indicated a need to expand to the West coast. “Rebuilding a more sustainable food system will take as much innovation and investment as the digital revolution,” says Roxanne Christensen, co-founder of SPIN-Farming. A jury selected entrepreneurs to present their investor-ready ag-business opportunities to the audience. Company presenters include 18 Rabbits; AeroFarms; Capay Valley Growers; Cityscape Farms; Estancia Beef; FoodLogiQ; Inka Biospheric Systems; Itronics; Marrone BioInnovations; NextGen Illumination; Pasteuria Bioscience; PurFresh; Solum; TerraGreen Biologics; Vestaron; Verdant Earth Technologies; Wild Idea Buffalo. Due to the overwhelming number of applicants, a separate track (sponsored by Aquacopia) will highlight investment opportunities in aquaculture. Company presenters include Blue Ridge Aquaculture; Hawaii Oceanic Technology; Kona Tuna; Litchfield Farms; Montana Microbial Products; Oberon FMR; and Open Blue Sea Farms. In addition to investors, industry professionals from organizations like Dow Chemical, Toro, the USDA and Food Alliance are on the agenda. Speakers include Jason Matheny of NewHarvest, Patrick Pohlen of Latham & Watkins, Michael Dimock of Roots of Change, Jeana Hultquist of US AgBank, and Derek Yurosek of Bolthouse Farms. Information about the event, including registration details and the agenda are available at www.agriculture20.com. A sellout crowd is expected, and all registrations must be processed online, in advance. ABOUT NEWSEED ADVISORS NewSeed Advisors is both the founder of Agriculture 2.0 and an investor in and advisor to sustainable agriculture companies. ABOUT US VENTURE PARTNERS U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) is a leading Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build world-class companies that are leaders in their industry. ABOUT SPIN FARMING SPIN-Farming publishes the SPIN-Farming® and SPIN-Gardening™ online learning series and conducts workshops in partnership with leading farming, gardening, environmental and investment organizations.

Clean Seed Capital’s primary initiative is predicated on identifying solution-driven, sustainable, environmentally responsible, agricultural based companies that need a strategic partner to facilitate progress. As a value added group, CleanSeed Capital Group provides strategic capital, business advisory services, and marketing strategies that yield both positive impact and significant investor returns from this rapidly growing sector.