TropAg 2019 reflections

Plant Industries staff, Mila Bristow and Cameron McConchie attended TropAg 2019 held in Brisbane on 11-13 November.  Here are some of their thoughts about the conference, the research and technology presented and reflections on where agricultural science is heading. TropAg 2019 is an international agricultural meeting held in Brisbane with over 700 delegates from 50 countries.

The conference had programs under the broad headings of field crops, horticulture, livestock, nutrition and food, and ag-futures.

“The program was packed full of interesting talks, so for me the biggest dilemma was which session to attend. It was an excellent opportunity for the Queensland agricultural industries to promote their science and their vision for the future. It was also a great chance to see what is happening in this area.”

- Cameron McConchie.

The highlights

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) team are increasing their emphasis on Australian flora for food products. An exciting example of this was the international collaboration developed with Indigenous communities around rice products. Wild rice has been part of the diets of Australia’s Indigenous population for thousands of years, it is distantly related to aromatic rice and has been attracting increasing interest as a gourmet/ niche food product. Visit the CRC for Developing North Australia’s CRC NA website for news on this project.

There were discussions around developments in pest and disease management, including NT DPIR’s work on banana Fusarium Wilt, Tropical Race 4. For a quick run-down on this work visit the NT Government banana plant protection webpage.

During the conference the bush fires were raging up and down the east coast and the presentations on climate change attracted a large audience. One of the key sessions led by the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) climate science team explained the detailed science that informs our understanding of today’s climate. This offered insight into multi-decadal drought patterns and the impacts on farming in the north. Some very practical outcomes were presented including the Northern Australia Climate Program, which our Territory producers have been involved in as we bring BOM to the Bush and the Climate Mates program (see this USQ article for more information).

Particularly interesting were the talks about gene editing to manipulate crop performance and accelerate plant breeding programs. This is a complicated topic, but there is a good explanation about it in this QAAFI article. This technology may be used to develop methods the address some of the threats for crop production in the tropics. Possible applications include non-browning apples, potatoes and mushrooms, soybeans with higher levels of oleic acid to improve the fatty acid profile. To read more information about this technology read this Agrifutures article.

The next conference is scheduled for November 2021.

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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