june 2016 newsletter Tag

As the global population rises, so does the demand on the food supply. What challenges lie ahead for agribusiness and the world? "The assumption that everyone will have something to eat is increasingly built into the rhythm of life," writes The Economist. Food security ought to be at an all-time high. Advances in technology and changes to agricultural practice have led to a boom time: our capacity to produce food is extraordinary. Automation, genetic modification and mechanical processes combine to create more food for less work. As recently as 1900, 41 per cent of American workers were farm labourers; that figure now sits at 2 per cent. And in those hundred or so years, the capacity for production has rocketed skywards. In the 30 years between 1961 and 1996, global yields of maize and paddy rice increased by 50 per cent; global yields of wheat doubled in the same period. Those are three extraordinary decades of growth. So why can 2 billion of the world's 7.3 billion citizens not find enough to eat?

Australian dairy farmers need your help – here are some tips to get the most out of your purchasing power. 

The Australian dairy farmers' price crisis

Just before the end of the last financial year, Australia's largest dairy producer, Murray Goulburn, announced they would be cutting prices paid to Australian dairy farmers for their milk. This cut, of around 15 per cent, was quickly taken up by the world's largest dairy exporter, Fonterra. Around 60 per cent of Australian dairy farmers supply these two companies, and between 6 and 10 per cent of this dairy supply is provided to the domestic market, with the rest exported as commodities such as milk powder and cheese.

Space food – vegetables grown on Mars – is in the realm of possibility, an experiment by Dutch scientists has proven. Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes are capable of thriving in the Red Planet's soil without soaking up heavy metals that would be harmful to humans. Other vegetables are likely to draw up quantities of copper, lead and cadmium identified in Martian soil and unsuitable for human consumption. The experiments have been conducted by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and so far they have successfully raised 10 crops in soil with a similar composition to that found on Mars.

This completely automated robotic lamb processing plant in Bordertown, South Australia, is an incredible innovation. Created by Scott Automation & Robotics in conjunction with JBS and Meat & Livestock Australia, the processing plant is a marvel. It aims to revolutionise butchery operations. The machine uses x-ray to scan each lamb carcass as it comes down the conveyor. The x-ray identifies precisely where to make primal cuts - for example, between the fourth and fifth rib - and delivers these cuts for further processing. After the primal cuts, the middles are processed on a further machine, resulting in extraordinarily tidy racks of lamb.

Coffee grounds are being saved from landfill and turned into a breeding ground for mushrooms.

Earlier this year, Ryan Creed and Julian Mitchell, both fly-in, fly-out mine workers, launched a crowdfunding campaign to tackle coffee waste creatively. Since February, the pair has successfully diverted three tonnes of wasted coffee grounds into their project.

The product? Oyster mushrooms.