Opinion: To future-proof our crops from drought, look to the Australian deserts

August 22, 2016

Dr Steve Wylie with the Australian native plant in high demand

Dr Steve Wylie believes Australia's flora and fauna could be an innovation goldmine

As the globally population continues to rise by 80 million people a year, the challenge to feed to world becomes a very real one.

In an article for The Conversation, Dr Steve Wylie from Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences asks the questions of what can we do to future-proof our crops to help feed a population expected to increase to 9.3 billion people by 2050? How can it be done again by 2100 to feed 12 billion?

“Despite the massive human population increase in the past 20 years, the amount of farmed land used to feed these people has not increased. In fact, it has decreased slightly to 1.4 billion hectares,” says Dr Wylie.

“As towns, roads and factories take over established farming land, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable land on which to develop new farms.

“Although the deserts would seem to be obvious places to look for novel strategies to protect crops living under hotter dryer conditions, this is not a well-researched area.”

Dr Wylie goes onto say that future climate scenarios predict that many croplands will soon be subjected to less rainfall and higher temperatures.

“Our research is exploring routes beyond traditional ones to deliver tougher crops for a hotter, drier world,” he said.

“The flora and fauna of Australia are potentially an innovation goldmine.”

To read the full Dr Wylie’s article in full, click here.

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