Wednesday 18 November 2020 – This informative session saw our expert panellists Dr Jean-Phillipe Ral and Dr Anne Rae from CSIRO along with Bruce Rodgerson (Rubicon Water) and Dr Fouad Abo (GHD) unpack the multilayered approach to drought management in Australia and China – including long-standing collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).
Since 1975, CSIRO has been working with the CAS on numerous projects in areas ranging from climate change to nanotechnology. The private agricultural sector is also tactically leveraging key areas of collaboration between Australia’s know-how and China’s scaling abilities to not only grow business but also work towards reducing waste and promoting efficient agricultural practices.
Thank you to CSIRO for their continued support of this series and to our guests in attendance on the day for their considered questions.
Some key takeaways from the session:
Dr Jean-Phillipe Ral – CSIRO
- CSIRO has a mission towards drought resilience and targets specific research areas for optimal results.
- There has been a significant shift in maximum temperatures in the Australian winter cereal region. Predictions show that these temperatures are expected to rise.
- CSIRO wants to tackle the issue of rural Australian towns running out of water. These water shortages cause great social and economic stress to rural towns.
- CSIRO have identified aquifers within the Murray Darling Basin where there is potential to store water in wet years and retrieve it in drought years.
- CSIRO has partnered with the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) for over 40 years, and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).
Bruce Rodgerson– Rubicon Water
- Rubicon focuses on optimising the supply and efficiency of agricultural water.
- The world’s population is projected to be 9.8 billion in 2050, meaning that there will need to be a 56% increase in food, fibre and bio-fuel production.
- There are numerous constraints on increasing agricultural productivity, including
- Climate change.
- Land availability.
- Water scarcity and competition for water.
- 70% of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture. Of that, 71% is extracted from surface sources.
- There is potential for water savings in agriculture, as only 37% of water released from dams is actually required by the crop.
- Rubicon’s business is about delivering value to governments, water managers and farmers.
Dr Fouad Abo – GHD
- Drought has caused Australia’s GDP to drop by 0.75% ($12 billion over the drought period).
- Drought has cost China’s economy around US$17 billion a year.
- It has been estimated that about 33% of global soils are degraded.
- Soil needs water to be both productive and abundant.
- Australian soils are generally not rich in organic matter (OM) and have not been through the glacial age.
- It is crucial to properly management carbon flows to maintain a sustainable drought resilience.
- It is generally accepted that a two-tiered soil health plan is needed, firstly being emergency action, and secondly being long term to drought proof spills.
- Australia is currently researching NRM strategies that have the greatest potential to improve drought resilience.
Key takeaways compiled by Annabel Pittendrigh, ACBC Vic Intern