Australia: Speed breeding of crops by Queensland researchers in bid to battle global hunger - PressFrom - Australia

AustraliaSpeed breeding of crops by Queensland researchers in bid to battle global hunger

22:31  14 march  2019
22:31  14 march  2019 Source:

Queensland crops wither in drought as dams dry out

Queensland crops wither in drought as dams dry out Summer crops are failing and winter crops look increasingly less likely to be planted as dams dry reach record lows across the state of Queensland due to drought. Queensland farmers are nervously watching the skies as summer crops fail and winter crops look increasingly less likely to be planted. For many, this winter crop will be the second in a row they will miss, for others it will be their third. Dam levels also have farmers worried with the state's second largest storage, Fairbairn Dam, hitting its lowest ever point.

Speed breeding of crops by Queensland researchers in bid to battle global hunger© Provided by ABC News Dr Lee Hickey inside a speed breeding greenhouse at night on campus at St Lucia.

Queensland researchers are speeding up the life cycle of crops to develop new varieties for Australian farmers in a bid to minimise the impacts of drought and climate change.

With the United Nations estimating the world's population will hit 9.8 billion by 2050, Australian researchers are at the leading edge in a global search for ways to dramatically improve crop yields, land use and food security.

The world-first speed breeding technique was developed by scientists at the University of Queensland's alliance for agriculture and food innovation (QAAFI), who use light and temperature-controlled greenhouses to accelerate plant growth and deliver more tolerant crops.

Dolphin breeding at Gold Coast Sea World could be banned

Dolphin breeding at Gold Coast Sea World could be banned Sea World’s controversial dolphin shows are once again under the spotlight.

Senior research fellow Dr Lee Hickey, who has led the program for more than a decade, said it could take 20 years to develop crops with drought and disease resistant traits, but the greenhouses delivered these results in half the time.

"We can now grow up to six generations of wheat, barley, chickpea and quinoa per year in greenhouses instead of just one or two in the field," he said.

"We're trying to track down the genes controlling drought tolerance or disease resistance and so this can have big flow-on effects to accelerate the development of more robust crops for farmers."

The temperature of the greenhouses are kept between 22 to 17 degrees Celsius and LED lights remain on for 22 hours a day to create conditions that lead to early flowering and seed harvest in the plants.

Iconic Coffs Harbour dolphinarium axes breeding program

Iconic Coffs Harbour dolphinarium axes breeding program The news of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park’s breeding ban is welcome news to former Premier of New South Wales Bobb Carr.

Once the plants have been bred with the improved genetics inside the greenhouses, they are put to the test in the field to ensure they produce good yields before being handed over to farmers.

The first wheat variety completely bred and developed in the speed breeding system was released to Australian growers last year.

It includes a trait that stops mature grain crops from prematurely germinating after rain or a storm.

Dr Hickey said the technique was originally designed for wheat crops, but had been adapted for barley, canola, chickpea, peanuts and potatoes.

"As we've seen, the past 12 months has been a bit of a rollercoaster for our farmers, going from one of the worst droughts we've ever had in Queensland and New South Wales, to floods in the north — it's a bit like being in a lottery being a farmer," he said.

"Climate change is happening now, it's not a futuristic thing.

"What does this mean in terms of our crop production? It means we really need to deploy a whole bunch of different traits — like deep rooting so the plant can access stored soil moisture — into these crops to make them more robust."

Port Adelaide dolphin calf population decimated

Port Adelaide dolphin calf population decimated Every dolphin calf born in Adelaide's Port Riverthis summer breeding season has died, sparking concerns that the whole population could disappear. 

QAAFI researchers are also sharing the technology with the United Kingdom and with Asian and African nations in a bid to combat severe crop losses from drought and heat.

Dr Hickey recently returned from a trip to India where extreme heat had forced researchers to look into building large speed breeding warehouses to grow sorghum, millets, pigeon pea and ground nut plants.

Growers eager for more robust crops

Food growers on the Darling Downs have experienced their third dry summer in a row and the combination of below-average rainfall and hot weather have halved crop yields.

Grain farmer Wayne Newton grows sorghum, mung beans and dryland cotton on his property, west of Dalby, and is hoping for some decent rain in the coming months.

"It's been another one of these disastrous summers," he said.

"Summer is normally the time we get most of our rain, but we've just come through January and we've basically had no rain to talk about."

Mr Newton said grain varieties had improved in the past 30 years, with higher yields, improved resistant to disease and water use efficiency.

New website to reveal where speed cameras are located across SA

New website to reveal where speed cameras are located across SA A new website is about to help South Australian drivers find out where they are being targeted on the state's roads. 9News has been given the first look at the new site, which reveals where speed cameras are located across South Australia and has been developed to prove to drivers the devices are more about safety than revenue-raising. “People had a perception that the cameras were there to raise revenue and we wanted to allay those fears,” Police Minister Corey Wingard said. © 9news A new website reveals where speed cameras are placed across South Australia.

"Crop breeding, crop research and development is a key cornerstone to our industry and thankfully the grain industry collectively contributes an awful lot through levies that are used to fund the research work that is carried out by universities, the CSIRO and the Department of Agriculture," he said.

"It makes a big difference to our final yield and to the final profitability of a crop ... and it's not just us as grain farmers, our commodities like sorghum and wheat are used to feed livestock so there's a whole larger industry that is dependent on the things that we can grow."

CSIRO research scientist Richard Richards said there were also other techniques to fast-track the identification of plants with good genetics.

One technique utilises thermal imagery to scan crop fields for plants with good root systems.

"The speed associated with this technology was not available five years ago," Mr Richards said.

"It has only been made possible with sensitive thermal cameras that are not too expensive, cheap airborne systems such as drones, the ability to rapidly store and process thousands of images and the knowledge that the temperature of plants vary according to health.

"Given we can capture thermal images of thousands of plots in seconds with this new technology, then breeding gains may be enhanced."

Australian researchers say dingo is not a dog, but own species.
Researchers in Australia have determined that the dingo is not a dog but a native species of its own -- a classification they say requires a conservation rethink of the animal. Twenty researchers from a number of Australian Universities found the dingo has many characteristics that differentiate it from domestic and feral dogs, and other wild canids -- a family that includes wolves and foxes. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Ad

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 0
This is interesting!