Sustainable Development in Australian Agriculture
Sustainability is a question that is increasingly being asked of Australian agriculture.
The sustainability of Australian agriculture is important not only to farmers but to the industries that support them and, ultimately, to all Australians. A sustainable Australian agriculture will ensure the future security of our food, contribute to environmental and climate outcomes and, as in the past, define who we are as a nation and a people.
At Bayer CropScience, we believe that our technological and commercial expertise provide the opportunity and the duty to contribute directly to the sustainable development of Australian agriculture.
But what exactly is sustainable development?
As defined in the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.1 In essence, sustainable development encompasses three key areas, known as The Three Pillars of Sustainable Development: economic growth, social equity and environmental protection.
For Bayer CropScience, sustainability is achieved when economic, social and environmental elements are given equal rank of importance. This concept provides the framework to understand our contribution to sustainable agriculture. For many years, Bayer CropScience has provided high quality crop protection products that ensure a maximum return on investment for farmers. We are now partnering with the world’s best research institutions to develop state-of-the-art solutions in the field of modern breeding techniques to help make crops more resistant to environmental conditions. Bayer CropScience also has an agreement with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop and apply models to assess the full environmental impact of new generation crops.
Bayer CropScience’s contribution to sustainable agriculture
|While Australian farmers face a unique set of challenges, Bayer CropScience and its partners are committed to working together to introduce modern technology and innovative solutions to help produce healthier crops more efficiently and more sustainably. We believe we can contribute significantly to the sustainability of Australian agriculture to help safeguard our food supply now and for the future.|
Innovation to help offset economic challenges
Australian agriculture must compete on the world market in an environment of high exchange rates, deregulated markets and import pressure. At Bayer CropScience, we work with farmers and key partners along the entire food chain to introduce world-class solutions to market in the shortest time possible to help overcome these challenges.
Solutions for success
Bayer CropScience in Australia has taken the long-range view of investment and development. While it can cost more than $1.5 million in local research to bring a new product or active ingredient to market, in the long term, this outlay brings increased benefit to the Australian agricultural market:
- Higher return on investment for farmers from increased yields and quality.
- New modes of action with improved environmental profiles to combat resistant pathogens, pests and weeds more efficiently and sustainably.
- Assured access to world markets through the introduction of modern, more targeted chemistry.
Movento® is the first new mode of action for many years that targets sucking pests in a variety of fruit and vegetables with its unique, “two-way” systemic action. Unlike other insecticides, which are transported only in the xylem of the plant system, Movento® is additionally transported in the phloem, ensuring vulnerable parts of the plant are reached and the entire plant is protected. With
Between 2006 and 2014, Bayer CropScience will have launched 18 new products to help offset some of the challenges faced by the Australian agricultural industry.
With its two-way systemic action, Movento®
Responding to consumer needs
As demand for foodstuffs grows and consumer preferences for fresh, affordable food products increase, Bayer CropScience funds research into plant varieties with greater resistance to pests and climatic conditions. These varieties better meet the needs of consumers and ensure greater marketability by the agricultural industry.
The Intense® variety of tomato – an exciting innovation from Nunhems, Bayer CropScience’s vegetable and seed business – is the world’s first non-leaking tomato. Intense® is a full-flesh tomato with a higher density which does not lose its juice. The ability to retain the juice results in a lasting fresh appearance after cutting, making it very convenient for fresh salads, pizza toppings, wraps and sandwiches. Intense® also provides food service and the freshcut industry with ingredient handling efficiency and reduced waste levels.
Investing in the future of Australian agriculture
Creating revolutionary products does not happen overnight. Bayer CropScience has taken the long-term economic view and invests in Australia’s future crops.
Despite uncertainty, Bayer CropScience has continued to invest in its hybrid oilseed business to meet demand for healthier oils and higher yields. We have maintained a canola breeding platform in Australia for 12 years that will see the introduction of new hybrid canola by 2013. Our establishment of a canola seed business in this country will provide growers access to high performing hybrids
and future novel traits emerging from our global research and development activities.
In addition, we have entered into a research partnership with CSIRO that will focus on research into new wheat varieties to achieve higher yields and improved tolerance against abiotic stresses such as drought, temperature and salinity. Wheat is a staple crop worldwide and a successful export for the Australian agricultural market, contributing more than $5 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product.
Together with growers and industry partners, Bayer CropScience is committed to helping Australian farmers earn a greater return on investment, increase their global competitiveness and to helping safeguard food production and supply worldwide.
|Rob Hall, General Manager – BioScience, Bayer CropScience (left) with Jeremy Burdon, Chief, CSIRO Plant Industry|
New technology for new climatic conditions
Agriculture has a profound impact on the environment in terms of water consumption. At the same time, rising temperatures and a severe shortage of water pose many challenges for Australian farmers.
Bayer CropScience believes we have a responsibility to work hand-in-hand with growers and industry partners to develop and implement efficient solutions to help Australian agriculture adapt to new environmental condition.
Strengthening no-till agriculture
When harvested, broadacre crops (such as wheat, barley and oats) leave behind a stubble that is traditionally burned or ploughed in. Minimum tillage agriculture involves a reduced number of soil cultivations prior to crop plantings.
No-till agriculture is the extreme version, whereby the seed is planted into untilled soil and the stubble of the previous crop is essentially left undisturbed.
After years of research, Bayer CropScience developed Sakura®, a pre-emergent herbicide that is an excellent fit with a no-till farming approach and will help broaden its widespread adoption.
The benefits of minimum or no-till farming are many:
- Reduces the loss of soil organic carbon. When soil is fractured, soil organic carbon can be oxidized and released into the atmosphere ascarbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
- Rainfall is captured more efficiently, thereby maximising soil water so farmers can make the most of every drop that falls.
- Maintains soil stability, thereby reducing wind and water erosion.
- Reduces the number of soil cultivations thereby reducing diesel consumption.
Sakura® has a very low tendency to bind to stubble and facilitates the use of knife points to plant seed with almost no soil disturbance. These environmental benefits make Sakura® an ideal part of the solution to the environmental challenges faced by
What is more, Sakura® controls herbicide-resistant annual ryegrass more effectively than existing products in this market, thus helping to safeguard the production of certain cereal crops and ensure high quality food for everyone.
Relieving the stress of climate impact
In addition to insect control, some of Bayer CropScience’s insecticidal products have additional benefits of providing protection against abiotic stress in some circumstances. Called Stress Shield™, this unique characteristic can increase the plant’s ability to handle stress associated with drought, waterlogging and disease and may also result in more vigorous growing and higher yielding plants.
Bayer measures the benefit of Stress Shield with advanced moisture metres
New crops for a new climate
On another front, Bayer CropScience has entered into a two-year partnership with CSIRO to develop new generation cereal crops with greater yield, more efficient nutrient utilisation and tolerance against stress. CSIRO will assess the system-wide consequences of these technologies, including their influence on the carbon footprint of cereal production.
This is part of Bayer CropScience’s commitment to responsibly develop solutions that meet the world’s food and energy requirements.
A commitment to rural communities
How will Australia continue to help feed the world if we lack plant science and agronomy graduates?
How will research into improved crops, higher yielding harvests and pest-resistant plants continue without investment into the young
How will farmers cope with the changes to come?
Bayer CropScience’s commitment to agricultural education A lack of scientists trained in horticulture and agronomy is a challenge that not only faces Australian agriculture but can be seen worldwide. The support of agricultural education in Australia is an important facet of Bayer CropScience’s social conscience.
Bayer CropScience is one of three organisations investing heavily in the CSIRO Plant Industry Summer Studentship Program. As an employer of agricultural graduates, it is imperative that Bayer makes an effort to fund the future stream of young people trained particularly for Australia’s unique environment.
The Summer Studentship Program gives 20 second and third year undergraduate students the opportunity to work alongside highly-qualified CSIRO scientists to carry out research projects in the field of plant science.
These ten week projects give students the chance to learn from some of Australia’s brightest minds and allow students to experience what a career in science can offer.
Hayley Given from Macquarie University, took part in the Summer Studentship Program and worked in Canberra’s High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre last year. The project used near-infrared imaging technology to study how plants take up water. Clearly, a project like this has longterm benefits for water conservation in Australian agriculture.
Commitment to the future
Bayer CropScience expects that the Summer Studentship Program will motivate undergraduate students to move their area of study into plant science or agriculture.
Regardless, the chance to work with some of Australia’s great minds is an opportunity that few students would be willing to pass up.
To help overcome the shortage of agricultural graduates, education is imperative at all levels – not just at the tertiary level.
The CSIRO CarbonKids Program aims to spark interest in climate change at an early age. It is a program for schools committed to tackling climate change and offers educational resources for the early, primary and middle years of schooling. Bayer CropScience helped design a unit that focuses on scientific agriculture called “Agriculture in a Changing Climate”. The program will roll out to 90
schools across Australia in 2011 including 45 in rural areas.
With strong employee support, Bayer formed a partnership with Aussie Helpers, a charity that helps to fight poverty in rural Australia. The Aussie Helpers Training Farm for disadvantaged youth addresses issues such as high youth unemployment in rural
Bayer employees – many of whom come from the land and have seen first-hand the stress that drought places on Australian farmers – actively support Aussie Helpers through fundraising and volunteering at the farm at Mathoura, New South Wales.
(1 United Nations. 1987. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987.)