Issues Magazine

Articles about agriculture

More action needed to protect Australian animals

By Michelle Grattan

The evidence of gross cruelty in Egyptian slaughterhouses that came to light in May 2013 underlines that while some progress may have been made, the problems in the Australian live export trade are far from solved.

Neither side of politics is likely to stop live animal exports. AAP/Theron Kirkman

They probably will never be and I personally believe the trade should cease. But neither side of politics will ever embrace that. All up, it is worth about $1 billion annually.

Rotting to the Crown: How a Local Fungus Is Controlling an Introduced Weed

By David Officer

A fungus is providing a biological alternative to chemical methods for weed control.

Who doesn’t like a good movie mystery? You cheer for the good guys and are relieved when the bad ones get their comeuppance.

But who are the good guys and who are the bad? Who do you trust and who do you mistrust? In real life, as at the movies, the more we learn the more we realise we need to know!

Water: What’s in Store?

By Greg Leslie

Access to clean water, its use on arable land and the damage it does during extreme weather are the big challenges for today’s water management.

Water shapes ecosystems, landscapes and human society; it sets the conditions under which life exists on Earth. Absence of water means absence of life.

Crop crisis: Why global grain demand will outstrip supply

By Deepak Ray

An analysis finds that agricultural production is not keeping up with the demand for food by the world's growing population, as well as other needs such as biofuels.

Since the time of Malthus, humanity has worried whether there would be enough food to feed the growing population. Such fears were always overcome and doomsayers all proven wrong: there was always more land to grow our crops when existing croplands failed to deliver, and new ways to get more yield from old crops.

How Microbes Can Help Feed the World

By Ann Reid & Shannon E. Greene

Understanding the partnerships between microbes and plants could help to solve the global food crisis.

Feeding a global population projected to reach nine billion people by 2050 is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Gains from the Green Revolution have levelled off, there is a limited supply of arable land and clean water, and inputs like fertilisers and pesticides are both economically and environmentally costly. Intensifying current agricultural approaches is simply not a sustainable solution to the problem of food security; new approaches are desperately needed.

The Case for Second-Generation Biofuels

By Glenn Tong

Biofuels have been pegged as the great hope for sustainable and “green” fuel. Policy-makers set targets for the replacement of fuel sold in petrol stations with biofuels. Recently, however, biofuels have received an onslaught of negative media publicity.

Criticism of biofuels centres around the competition between crops produced for first-generation biofuels and food. The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation commented that first-generation biofuels have had “a significant impact on world crop prices”. The report also called for government policies to be “urgently reviewed in order to preserve the goal of world food security, protect poor farmers, promote broad-based rural development and ensure environmental sustainability”.