The word 'food' cut into a wheat crop at the Sydney Agriculture Institute's farm.

Food the focus for National Agriculture Day

21 November 2017
Big picture message: 200m-wide bird's-eye view of harvester in wheat

Crop mapping plans have taken a back seat to this 'agwork' to focus attention on the Sydney Institute of Agriculture's key message as part of the inaugural National Agriculture Day, which is focussed on all things food.

Agribusiness offers Australia one of the largest opportunities for sustained economic growth.
Professor Alex McBratney

Cropping supervisor Kieran Shephard put the metrics into the header’s high-tech navigation system and harvested the letters. Photo top of page: credit Josh Smith.

It took a plane to capture the GPS precision harvesting in the field of wheat but the message is clear: FOOD! is the Sydney Institute of Agriculture’s focus for National Agriculture Day, writ large – or precisely 216m wide and 60m high.

The FOOD! for thought does not come without a cost – the food art will impact on the crop mapping on the 280ha paddock. This is a small price to pay, say the ‘agvocates’, when considering what’s at stake – on this property alone the crop is expected to produce 840 tonnes of durum wheat – the equivalent of about one million packets of pasta; research underway is looking at the potential for heat- and drought tolerance using natural breeding techniques.

“I was talking with our cropping supervisor Kieran Shephard and we came up with the idea of cutting the word FOOD into the wheat which we were about to harvest – after all, agriculture is all about food production,” explained Dr Guy Roth, the director of northern agriculture at the University’s Narrabri crop research campus.

“The word food is only four letters, and we managed that with our state-of-the-art 12m-wide header; Kieran put the metrics into the header’s high-tech navigation system and harvested the letters.

“Whether it is a loaf of bread or a fresh cherry, a lot of technology and management combine to produce the best food in the world.”

Professor Alex McBratney, the director of the University’s Sydney Institute of Agriculture that launched recently, said agribusiness offered Australia one of the largest opportunities for sustained economic growth in the coming decades.

Professor McBratney welcomed the inaugural National Agriculture Day today and said the Institute was optimistic about agriculture in Australia and excited about its projected growth from a $60 billion to a $100 billion industry.

“National Agriculture Day is an important tool in reconnecting producers and consumers and hopefully our magnificent photo from Narrabri helps to do that,” Professor McBratney said.

“The current disconnect between consumers of agricultural products and the producer needs to be addressed for agriculture to be a sustainable part of our nation.

“The Sydney Institute of Agriculture’s research will focus on reconnecting consumers and producers.”

The Sydney Institute of Agriculture

Our researchers are industry leaders influencing practice and policy locally and internationally. They are finding solutions to the biggest challenges our planet faces, from sustainable nutritious food production for an increasing population, to sustainable environmental management issues.

Food and fibre production, processing, distribution and consumption are under increasing scrutiny. Positive digital technology and innovation will result in a competitive, transparent, resilient and profitable agriculture and food sector. This transformation will require considerable new investment and capacity in agricultural research and development.

The Sydney Institute of Agriculture is unique in that it brings all these seemingly disparate parts together – under the umbrella approach of several of the UN sustainable development goals. Whether across this University or across the globe, our focus is on ensuring we can continue to feed ourselves and a growing population while drawing on stretched and straitened natural resources.

The Sydney Institute of Agriculture’s vision for Australian agriculture is that of a highly profitable, value-added, decommoditised, connected agriculture producing bespoke products for tens of millions of consumers both in Australia and overseas.

Listen to Professor McBratney’s vision for a “New Agriculture”.at the Sydney Institute of Agriculture launch.

Vivienne Reiner

PhD Candidate and Casual Academic
  • Integrated Sustainability Analysis,

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