Nature, food and kinship

Bringing Aboriginal food and plant knowledge to a new audience Most people know that Australia is home to many unique species and ecologies, but fewer of us have thought about how this uniqueness shapes traditional nutrition and other plant uses among Indigenous peoples. Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture by Bruce Pascoe … Continue reading Nature, food and kinship

Women are changing the rules of Australian agriculture

Olympia Yarger’s farming day starts at sunrise. By eight in the morning, she has already collected the eggs. Next, she feeds the animals and checks the climate control system. Then she cleans. “There’s a lot of cleaning to do,” she says. “Just like with any other animal. It’s an all-day affair but a really rewarding … Continue reading Women are changing the rules of Australian agriculture

What do astronauts eat?

When we move off into the interplanetary expanse, we will still need to be well fed. But food isn’t exactly abundant in space, or on other planets like Mars. The answer? Space crops. But what are the challenges of growing plants in space? And how could we develop crops to support long-term space habitation? Cosmos … Continue reading What do astronauts eat?

Game-changing GM crop finally planted in Nigeria

Last July, for the first time, subsistence farmers in Nigeria planted a new variety of genetically modified (GM) cowpea – and it promises to bolster food security for over 200 million Nigerians. This follows a decision made in December 2019, when Nigeria became the first country in the world to approve the commercialisation of GM … Continue reading Game-changing GM crop finally planted in Nigeria

You may have missed…

Big cockroach evolution According to the evolutionary tree of Australian burrowing cockroaches, published in Systematic Entomology, our notorious big bugs might look like other species of cockroach, but they aren’t particularly closely related to them – a type of evolution called parallelism. Burrowing cockroaches live in scrubland, preferring leaf litter, and they are actually pretty … Continue reading You may have missed…

Sex, money and absent fathers: it’s truffle season

FROM VISIONS OF RUSTIC Frenchmen stalking through misty forests in search of arboreal delicacies to the drama of haute cuisine, there’s a romance to truffles, the pungent fungi. But when it comes to understanding its mysterious mating habits, the romance is less Alexandre Dumas and more Mills & Boon, featuring secret sexual encounters and a … Continue reading Sex, money and absent fathers: it’s truffle season

The surprisingly complicated technology that goes into picking winners

This article first appeared in Cosmos Weekly on 4 June 2021. For more stories like this, subscribe to Cosmos Weekly. Can robots be trained to pick up after us? A recent breakthrough in machine learning could point the way toward a much more tactile future for these smartest of machines. In April the ABC carried … Continue reading The surprisingly complicated technology that goes into picking winners

Clean, green way to make ammonia fertilisers

A team of Australian scientists have developed a new, efficient way to make the critical agricultural product ammonia. The research could be used to make fertilisers directly on farms, using renewable energy, by the end of the decade. Ammonia (NH3) is a key ingredient in fertilisers, with 150 million metric tonnes made in 2019 alone. … Continue reading Clean, green way to make ammonia fertilisers

The surprisingly complicated technology that goes into picking winners

Can robots be trained to pick up after us? A recent breakthrough in machine learning could point the way toward a much more tactile future for these smartest of machines. In April the ABC carried a report about a new machine put to work in the apple orchards of Tasmania, helping pickers – of whom … Continue reading The surprisingly complicated technology that goes into picking winners

Agritech: Australia’s next big export opportunity

In 2015, I had the opportunity to move to Australia from the US. As someone who had been studying and working in the rapidly emerging agritech space, observing its explosion onto the global tech scene in 2012, I was excited to move to a country with such strong foundations in agriculture and ag research. I … Continue reading Agritech: Australia’s next big export opportunity

Coming soon to a cow near you: the Internet of Agricultural Things. It could add billions to our economy. What’s stopping it from taking off?

Australia’s animals are joining the Internet of Things, and according to a recent report by ANU, it’s just one of a suite of new technologies that could add $15.6 billion to the value of production in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry industries each year in Australia. “Five years from now a farmer will wake up in … Continue reading Coming soon to a cow near you: the Internet of Agricultural Things. It could add billions to our economy. What’s stopping it from taking off?

Explainer: Which baits are used in the mouse plague?

The NSW government has released a $50 million package to assist with the harrowing mouse plague affecting the west of the state. Controversially, part of the plan is to ask for approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) to use the bait bromadiolone – a rodenticide that has drawn criticism from some … Continue reading Explainer: Which baits are used in the mouse plague?