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  • Drought hardened Australia. In this parched country it can be a struggle to raise livestock

  • or grow crops.

  • We were in drought for three years, so we really didn't crop anything for three years.

  • Warmer temperatures are increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, reducing agricultural

  • output.

  • The loss of income was quite extreme. We dropped from about five permanent staff to three.

  • A lot of these guys had been here for a long time.

  • I've come to north-eastern New South Wales to investigate the future of farming on the

  • world's driest inhabited land.

  • Gidday. Good to me you.

  • I'm Guy. Jamie.

  • Welcome.

  • At this two thousand hectare research farm in Narrabri, Guy Roth and his team are on

  • a mission to find new and sustainable farming techniques to better suit the climate.

  • We've got researchers here looking at different types of wheat, fava beans, and chickpeas,

  • trying to select lines that are more tolerant of heat stress, which will then in turn, in

  • years to come produce higher yields for farmers.

  • The rains finally came here earlier this year, but in these photos taken here over the last

  • 3 years, you can see the effects of their worst drought on record.

  • Dust storms like these also show why Guy's team is veering away from traditional ploughing

  • and tilling that makes soil more susceptible to being blown away.

  • That's our valuable soil being lost into the atmosphere. It's our most fertile soil.

  • Using digital technology is a key strategy in capturing and holding the maximum amount

  • of moisture in the soil.

  • We've got some soil moisture probes, they are measuring the soil 24-7. I can look that

  • up on my phone and see the soil water content in real time. So we can get, make that more

  • accurate, because it affects potential yield that's for better returns and better profitability

  • for farmers.

  • We also do yield mapping. We know where the highest yielding spots are and the lowest

  • yielding spots are. The GPS enables us to drive the tracks always in the same spot.

  • So we don't have any soil compaction and that increases the yield where there is no tracks.

  • Guy and his team work with local farmers like Andrew Watson in nearby Boggabri who provide

  • them with advice on what they see as a priority.

  • Last year was not much more than 210 millimetres of rainfall for the entire year.

  • What did this look like last year, in the drought?

  • Dry dead grass pretty much. So it wasn't very pretty.

  • In Australia, overall farm profits fell $64,000 per farm over the past two years, according

  • to Australia's agricultural research agency.

  • What was the impact of that drought?

  • Essentially we were irrigating about 15 per cent of our land where we'd normally irrigate

  • 60 per cent.

  • One way of battling the effects of climate change is sharing data.

  • So we've been very heavily involved in an economic benchmarking group, essentially a

  • broad group across New South Wales. We take the data from that that shows what cropping

  • system, not just what crops, so that's what rotations are working the best.

  • He's also embraced technology to minimise water loss.

  • So certainly the overhead sprinkler systems have brought about a 30 per cent water saving

  • on average. We've been able to grow the same yields or better yields with less water.

  • Back in Narrabri, I catch up with another local farmer.

  • Ian Gourley runs a rain fed, dryland farm.

  • He's also trying new farming techniques and technology.

  • So we've all out where everything is all GPS guidance. We have permanent wheel tracks.

  • Satellite imagery to do crop monitoring. EM surveys to look at, you know, what our soil

  • structure is and what our water holding capacities are and how we can then manage that.

  • Innovative rotation practices can even include planting non-profitable cover crops, simply

  • to protect or improve the soil for future crops.

  • You know, maybe forgoing a year's income on a cash crop to grow a cover crop, to make

  • the whole rotation more profitable.

  • Australia's farmers are not alone in fighting the effects of climate change. However the

  • agricultural industry here has been forced to move faster and it's now set to become

  • a digital leader in farming.

  • What we learned out of this drought was it just changed our whole thinking on what the

  • future might look like.

  • Farming is not static. It continues to evolve.

Drought hardened Australia. In this parched country it can be a struggle to raise livestock

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The future of farming in drought-hardened Australia? | FT Food Revolution

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 09 月 21 日
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