Finding food security in a changing climate

Finding food security in a changing climate

Drought has a devastating effect on farms and farmers, putting Australia’s crops and prosperity at high risk.

Climate models suggest drought could be 20 per cent more common by 2030 across much of the country and up to 80 per cent by 2070 in crop-reliant areas.

In response our researchers are applying world-leading artificial intelligence technology to helping cereal crop farmers adapt to these dramatic changes.

Led by Professor Anton van den Hengel, the research team has tailored image-analysis technology to quickly identify cereal varieties that are robust enough to thrive in harsh drought conditions.

“By using image analysis to understand plants’ shape and structure at all stages of growth, we can identify and automatically measure attributes associated with high yields,” Professor van den Hengel says.

Food innovation

“Because this analysis can be performed very early in a plant’s lifespan, it promises to transform crop breeding.”

The system uses multiple images taken from numerous angles to construct computerised 3D models of the plants for analysis.

The image analysis work is then tested at our state-of-the-art Plant Accelerator facility, which has a fully robotic plant management system that allows automatic and repeatable control of growing conditions for up to 2400 plants at a time.

The work has the potential to help farmers in Australia and globally, which is why Bayer CropScience has signed on as an industry partner to help take this groundbreaking technology to market.

Rapidly advancing climate change and a rising world population has raised the issue of food security to a problem of global emergency level.

“It’s estimated we’ve already lost nearly 33 per cent of the planet’s arable land over the past 40 years through erosion and pollution,” Professor van den Hengel says.
It is vital to find ways to adapt and by developing world-leading technology and forming strong industry partnerships the University of Adelaide has become part of the solution for Australia and the world.

Tagged in Agriculture, food and wine, agriculture, climate, climate change, image analysis, ai, plant accelerator