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AGRIBUSINESS Can improved agricultural practices help combat climate change?

© Stock.Adobe.com/au/jorisvo

Agricultural emissions arise principally from enteric fermentation in livestock, manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soils, savanna burning and field burning of agricultural residues, all of which emit nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Over half of global non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) greenhouse gas

updated global non-CO2 GHG mitigation assessment to investigate the

(GHG) emissions are reportedly accountable to agriculture. According

potential for GHG reductions from agricultural emissions from seven

to a new research study recently published in the Journal of Integrative

regions globally, offsetting costs against social benefit of GHG mitigation

Environmental Sciences, this figure is set to rise substantially in the

(eg, human health, flood risk and energy costs). Various mitigation

next two decades, especially in developing countries. However, by

scenarios have been analysed for crop production, rice systems,

analysing US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) data and

livestock management and manure management. For each scenario

models, the authors have projected that there is significant potential

the authors calculated the break-even price, taking into account yield

for the agricultural sector to provide relatively low-cost opportunities

levels, commodity prices, labour requirements and water resources.

for reducing GHG emissions by 2030.

The authors have also compared baseline emissions versus mitigation

Even though farms and businesses across the agricultural sector

emissions levels to formulate mitigation potential at break-even prices

are interested in effective global GHG abatement, there is limited data

for 2010, 2020 and 2030. The results revealed significant potential

on global agricultural sector emissions relative to the data development

for GHG mitigation in the agriculture sector, with a projected 13–16%

on fossil fuel emissions. One of the reasons for this is that there

reduction of GHG (or over 520 Mt CO2) per year. Asia in particular

are unique challenges to developing agricultural data over large

offers a lot of opportunity for significant GHG mitigation, with improved

geographical areas, particularly with different regions and countries

or reformed livestock management and rice cultivation practices found

employing diverse farming methods and activities that emit multiple

to offer the greatest reduction. The authors do, however, urge caution

types of GHGs, with potentially complex interactions. The authors of

due to the potential impact on yield production, which could have

this new research paper analysed data and models from the USEPA’s

implications for regional and global food security.

Are sensors, drones and satellite apps the future for agribusiness? Three major issues face agriculture — declining productivity,

and asset/pipeline inspections using unmanned aerial vehicles

cost of production and retention of the next generation. An

(UAVs), also known as drones. Coverage includes all land types

answer to these and a strong focus for the immediate future

including mining, exploration, agricultural, construction and

should come from advances in technology.

environmental areas.

The importance of agriculture in the 21st century is tremendous, and the agricultural industry has the potential to underpin the Australian economy. Digital agriculture in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology and drones presents potential for productivity gains. On-farm innovation is thriving and Australian researchers and farmers are experimenting with data-driven applications to reduce costs and optimise land and water use. Making its debut alongside the Irrigation Australia International Exhibition, AgriTech Australia 2016 showcased the latest in high-end agricultural technology, and the free-toattend seminars showcased the tools to unlock the next wave of productivity needed to keep Australian agriculture competitive.

Aerial Image Works’ team can export data captured in a variety of formats ready for use in the user’s preferred GIS software. Staff can also provide additional data processing services such as point cloud classification, vegetation identification, NDVI, slope analysis and watershed analysis, to name a few. The company was one of the first in Australia to operate the Bramor rTK UAV — a highprecision, long-endurance UAV suitable for surveying and remote sensing applications.

Moving weather-based scheduling into the future IrriSAT is a weather-based irrigation scheduling and crop benchmarking tool that uses remote sensing to provide site-

What was on show at AgriTech?

specific crop management information across large scales at

Precision mapping and imagery

on-ground weather station networks and satellite imagery.

Aerial Image Works specialises in aerial surveys, mapping

It calculates the crop coefficient (Kc) from a linear relationship

12 Sustainability Matters - Jun/Jul 2016

relatively low cost. It combines two sources of information:

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Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...