Bio-Security, Economics, Environment, Nation Building, Sustainability

Nation Building – food – salinity and weed control

 

Salinity and weed control are increasingly reducing our capacity in agriculture.

In order to meet increased need for agriculture due to population growth, decimation of land due to population growth and reduced agricultural production due to increased severe weather conditions due to global warming.

“Dryland salinity currently affects about 2.5 million hectares of land, mostly in southern Australia and causes damage totalling $270 million each year” With potential to increase to 15 million hectares. Mostly affecting productive agricultural land. This would represent a $1.6 billion dollar decline in agricultural production. Dryland salinity is mainly caused by broad-acre clearing of deep rooted bushland and replacing it with shallow rooted pasture and crops. (1)

Emerging from the adoption of genetically modified crops has seen a corresponding increase of herbicide resistant weeds. Particularly where alternative weed controls have not been used. Some researchers have questioned the sustainabble use of GM crops. (2) This is a major concern for long term agricultural viability where GM crops have been used.

“Weeds are one of the major threats to the natural environment. They are destroying native habitats, threatening native plants and animals and choking our natural systems including rivers and forests. Directly or indirectly, all Australians are affected by weeds. Weeds reduce farm and forest productivity, invade crops, smother pastures and some can harm livestock.” Weeds are estimated to cost $2.5 billion in lost agricultural production and $1.5 billion in weed control a year. The environmental cost is similar to that faced by agricultural. About 15% of our flora is exotic. Weeds also contribute to respitory, other health issues and death in humans and animals. (3)

It is imperative that we seek to reduce salinity and spread of weeds, which are themselves growing concerns.

 

Links:

(1)  http://informedfarmers.com/soil-salinity-in-australia/

(2)  http://www.agbioforum.org/v13n4/v13n4a07-frisvold.htm

(3)  http://www.weeds.gov.au/weeds/why/impact.html

 

Picture source:  http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-vn3877317

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