Monthly Archives: October 2012

Debate wrap-up: “Every Australian child should be taught Agriculture at school”

NB: More content will be added to this post as it becomes available.

Dr John Willison taking the podium for the negative tean, Debate @ the Waite, October 2012

On Thursday the 18th of October, more than 80 people (plus our largest online audience to date) were treated on one of our most entertaining debates. For more information on the topic and speakers, please refer to our previous post on the debate.

Both sides argued passionately, using costumes and props and were ably wrangled by our moderator, Dr Paul Willis, Director of the RiAus. However, it was the negative team that were announced winners, after converting a pre-debate vote of 84% for the affirmative and 16% to the negative into a vote of 65% for the affirmative and 35% for the negative.

The Waite Research Institute would like to thank our moderator and our wonderful speakers:

Team for the Affirmative:
Associate Professor Amanda Able, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide
Mr Ian Joseph, Chair, Agribusiness Council of Australia
Mr Nick van den Berg, Second year student, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, University of Adelaide

Team for the Negative:
Professor Derek Leinweber, Head of School, Chemistry and Physics, University of Adelaide
Ms Lynne Strong, National Program Director, Art4Agriculture and Farmer
Dr John Willison, School of Education, University of Adelaide

To listen to the debate please click here (approx 1.25 hour, 25 Mb, mp3 format)

To see more images from the debate on Flickr click here

To read Lynne Strong’s blog post on the debate, click here

We’ll be uploading a collation of tweets showing the online conversation from the evening in the coming days.

New future for an old crop: barley enters the genomic age

Story orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Thursday 18/10/12

Barley research at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus. Photo by Randy Larcombe

Higher yields, improved pest and disease resistance and enhanced nutritional value are among the potential benefits of an international research effort that has resulted in the mapping of the barley genome.

The work – conducted by the International Barley Sequencing Consortium (IBSC), which includes Australian researchers based at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus – is described in a paper published today in the prestigious journal Nature.

Barley is the world’s fourth most important cereal crop, and the second most important crop in Australian agriculture. Australia produces around seven million tonnes of barley a year, 65% of which is exported at a value of $1.3 billion annually. Australia also accounts for one third of the world’s malting barley trade.

The Australian research team was led by scientists at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and the University of Adelaide, who worked with colleagues at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.

“This new analysis of all the genes in the barley genome is a major step forward for agricultural science and industry,” says Australian research leader and a senior author of the Nature paper, Professor Peter Langridge, Chief Executive Officer of the ACPFG.

“This will greatly accelerate the work in Australia and elsewhere to improve the quality of barley, enhance its disease and pest resistance and, most importantly, support efforts to improve the tolerance of barley to environmental stresses such as heat and drought.”

First cultivated more than 15,000 years ago, barley belongs to the same family as wheat and rye. Together, they provide about 30% of all calories consumed worldwide.

“Because barley is very closely related to wheat, these results from barley will have a major impact on wheat research,” Professor Langridge says. “Wheat is Australia’s most important crop, and improvements in wheat production globally will be a key to ensuring global food security.”

The barley genome is almost twice the size of that of humans. Determining the sequence of its DNA has presented a major challenge for the research team. This is mainly because its genome contains a large proportion of closely related sequences, which are difficult to piece together.

The team’s Nature paper provides a detailed overview of the functional portions of the barley genome, revealing the order and structure of most of its 32,000 genes. It also includes a detailed analysis of where and when genes are switched on in different tissues and at different stages of development.

The team has described regions of the genome carrying genes that are important to providing resistance to diseases, offering scientists the best possible understanding of the crop’s immune system.

The Australian component of this research has been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the South Australian Government.

For more background on this story, please refer to the original here

Podcast: Young – Sustainable water and natural resource management

Listen to a podcast of Prof Mike Young, Chair in Water Economics and Management at the University of Adelaide presenting on “Sustainable water and natural resource management”.

youngDSC_6564

From the Natural Resources in Demand Symposium Global and Local Perspectives October 11th, 2012.

Sponsors and partners include:

AARES: Australian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society [http://www.aares.org.au/]

RIRDC Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation [http://www.rirdc.gov.au/]
PIRSA Primary Industries and Regions SA [http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/]
The Waite Research Institute at the University of Adelaide [http://www.adelaide.edu.au/wri/]
More information about the symposium (including registration) can be found on the School’s events page.
– – –
  • The land that feeds us: global scarcity and its implications – Dr Derek Byerlee, International Agricultural Policy Specialist and author of “Rising Global Interest in Farmland”
  • Sustainable water and natural resource management – Prof Mike Young, Chair in Water Economics and Management at the University of Adelaide
  • China and India’s policy options for their global food and nutrition security – Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General, The International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC
  • Growth in emerging economies: impact on global food security by 2030 – Prof Kym Anderson, George Gollin Professor of Economics, Executive Director of the Wine Economics Research Centre, University of Adelaide
  • Morning speaker panel – moderated by Prof Roger Leigh, Director Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide
  • Building Competitive Agricultural Landscapes for South Australia: Resources, Policies, and Regional Image: Welcome and Introduction – Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • South Australia’s Land and Soil Resources – James Hall, South Australia Principal Soil Scientist
  • South Australia’s Water Policy and Resources – Prof Mike Young, Chair in Water Economics and Management at the University of Adelaide
  • Ways to Keep Land in Agriculture – Dave Sands, Former Regional Director, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
  • Q&A – moderated by Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • Opening of overview of final session – Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • Why Promoting Regions Works – Assoc Prof Wendy J. Umberger, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • How Europeans Support Regions – Dr Douglas Bardsley, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Environment and Population, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide
  • How to Capture Regional Values – Prof Maria L. Loureiro, Department of Economics, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Afternoon speaker panel – moderated by Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide

Podcast: Shenggen Fan – China and India’s policy options for their global food and nutrition security

Listen to a podcast of Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General, The International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC presenting “China and India’s policy options for their global food and nutrition security”.

aDSC_6538

From the Natural Resources in Demand Symposium Global and Local Perspectives October 11th, 2012.

Sponsors and partners include:

More information about the symposium (including registration) can be found on the School’s events page.

Podcast: The land that feeds us: global scarcity and its implications

Listen to a podcast of Dr Derek Byerlee, International Agricultural Policy Specialist and author of “Rising Global Interest in Farmland” presenting “The land that feeds us: global scarcity and its implications”.

From the Natural Resources in Demand Symposium Global and Local Perspectives October 11th, 2012.

Natural Resources in Demand

 

The Waite Research Institute is proud to sponsor the upcoming symposium on “Natural Resources in Demand” hosted by the University of Adelaide’s School of Economics, to be held in the Plant Research Centre Auditorium on the 11th of October, 2012.

With an expected global population of 9 billion people by 2050, the demand for land and natural resources is greater than ever. The need to provide food security in the face of ever decreasing amounts of arable land and the implications of a changing climate add to the challenge. This symposium will give global and local perspectives on these topics by bringing together research and policy experts.

The symposium will feature the following speakers and talks:

  • Symposium opening and introduction – Prof Christopher Findlay, Executive Dean, Faculty of Professions, University of Adelaide
  • The land that feeds us: global scarcity and its implications – Dr Derek Byerlee, International Agricultural Policy Specialist and author of “Rising Global Interest in Farmland”
  • Sustainable water and natural resource management – Prof Mike Young, Chair in Water Economics and Management at the University of Adelaide
  • China and India’s policy options for their global food and nutrition security – Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General, The International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC
  • Growth in emerging economies: impact on global food security by 2030 – Prof Kym Anderson, George Gollin Professor of Economics, Executive Director of the Wine Economics Research Centre, University of Adelaide
  • Morning speaker panel – moderated by Prof Roger Leigh, Director Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide
  • Building Competitive Agricultural Landscapes for South Australia: Resources, Policies, and Regional Image: Welcome and Introduction – Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • South Australia’s Land and Soil Resources – James Hall, South Australia Principal Soil Scientist
  • South Australia’s Water Policy and Resources – Prof Mike Young, Chair in Water Economics and Management at the University of Adelaide
  • Ways to Keep Land in Agriculture – Dave Sands, Former Regional Director, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
  • Q&A – moderated by Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • Opening of overview of final session – Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • Why Promoting Regions Works – Assoc Prof Wendy J. Umberger, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide
  • How Europeans Support Regions – Dr Douglas Bardsley, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Environment and Population, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide
  • How to Capture Regional Values – Prof Maria L. Loureiro, Department of Economics, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Afternoon speaker panel – moderated by Prof Randy Stringer, Global Food Studies, University of Adelaide

More information about the symposium (including registration) can be found on the School’s events page here.

Use #food2050 to join in the discussion on Twitter. There will be live tweeting from the event and podcasts available shortly after.

 

Every Australian child should be taught Agriculture at school

Image courtesy of Lisa Claessen

Australia’s agricultural workforce is aging. The median age of farmers is 53, compared to 39 for other workers. Our agricultural workforce is also shrinking, declining 22% in the last 12 years.

Agriculture is facing more than a skills shortage; we need a ‘Generation F’ – the next generation of educated, ambitious young people to ensure Australia’s role as a food-producing nation into the future. But where will they come from?

A recent survey showed that Australian school students knew little about agriculture; 75% thought cotton socks were an animal product and 45% could not identify that everyday lunchbox items such as bananas, bread and cheese originated from farms. Students who know little about agriculture are even less likely to consider it as a career path.

Farming is usually portrayed in the media as a tough gig. Farmers work longer hours and are at the mercy of the weather and economic factors that are largely beyond their control. Why would our best and brightest want to go into agriculture when so many industry stories focus on ‘doom and gloom’?

Making agriculture compulsory in schools would not only improve food knowledge, but also highlight the role of business skills and specialised technical knowledge in modern agriculture, revealing the opportunities for young people in this vital and dynamic industry. But with so much already crammed into the school curriculum, do we need to be prepared to lose something to attract more people into agriculture?

So, should we be exposing all school students to agriculture and encouraging our young people into the sector with the promise of a brilliant career?

Or is it really up to the agricultural sector itself to make the industry more attractive to young people and remove some of the barriers that prevent them from entering it more easily?

This debate, moderated by Dr Paul Willis, RiAus, will explore all these issues, as six experts in two teams argue for your vote.

Team for the Affirmative:
Associate Professor Amanda Able, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide
Mr Ian Joseph, Chair, Agribusiness Council of Australia
Mr Nick van den Berg, Second year student, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, University of Adelaide

Team for the Negative:
Professor Derek Leinweber, Head of School, Chemistry and Physics, University of Adelaide
Ms Lynne Strong, National Program Director, Art4Agriculture and Farmer
Dr John Willison, School of Education, University of Adelaide

When: Thursday 18 October 2012, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Road, Waite Campus

Finger food provided. A cash bar will be open throughout the event.

Admission is free, but prior registration is essential as seats are strictly limited.
To register to attend the event go to http://waitedebate-school.eventbrite.com/

To join the debate on Twitter, follow @waiteresearch and use the hashtag #agchatoz

The Waite Research Institute is a proud supporter of the Australian Year of the Farmer