There are many current products, technologies and systems currently available to farmers to begin to transform their farms, today. But how do you know what’s right for you? From modular farming practices, the role of biomass and farm waste in new and emerging industries, and opportunities to enhance soil ecology, explore and unpack purposeful actions that can yield greater farm productivity in TECHSPO’s third breakout session, Transformational Farming.
In a detailed look at the potential commercial opportunities utilising existing trees on properties, Kim Brooksbank from the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation will be delving into practical examples of products that can now be manufactured using farm waste and many types of biomass.
Kim comments, “We used to talk about trees on farms in terms of their landcare benefits and with mallees, the chance to one day create a eucalyptus oil industry, but over the last few years we have seen developments around the world that have changed the game. There are now commercial scale operations that are creating products from all types of biomass that were once only produced from mineral oil.”
Mr Brooksbank provides some compelling context around these emerging industries. “ There are now companies internationally making the raw materials for PET plastic from cereal straw. We now have a company making high quality Eucalyptus oil from mallees in WA selling into the international market, and that market is 100 times bigger than what they are able to supply at the moment, so there are real opportunities for expansion to feed that market. There are companies in Europe and America making renewable diesel from wood waste. This isn’t biodiesel that needs to be blended to work in an engine, but a product that is the same as mineral diesel and can be used at 100% in any diesel engine. A tonne of mallee wood can be turned into 400 litres of diesel. And we now have the technology to desalinate water using biomass that could allow farmers to make their own clean water from their own salt water and their own trees.”
There are many more innovations on the horizon in this space, but these examples are ready to go to market now. The future that has been promised for so long where we have multiple uses for the trees grown on farms is a reality for farmers today.
Additionally, this session will also cover alternate farming practices such as Modular Farming Systems. James Pateras from Modular Farms will be delving into ways in which modular farming can reduce food waste, increase food security and eliminate supply chain logistics to cut food miles. The exclusive Modular Farm System is a complete indoor vertical farming system capable of producing fresh, healthy plants, 24 hours a day, virtually anywhere in the world, in any climate. Modular Farm units have a close-loop hydroponic system and are fully sealed for complete climate control, reducing water usage by up to 90 per cent.
James will be explaining some of the benefits of modular farms, designed specifically for the diverse oceanic climate and built in Brisbane. The Australian Modular Farming System has been designed to support farmers from remote isolated communities to complex urban centres. Capable of either operating as a supplement to traditional farms or as an independent and self-sufficient business of its own, the Modular Farming System contains a fleet of eight modules that can extend the functionality and outputs of your farm.
Plant nutrition and soil biology will be another focus of this session, specifically in relation to broadacre farming. Tom Frost from Grow Safe® will be discussing some of the opportunities and challenges we face in relation to soil ecology in farming today, and will also explain how re-mineralisation and soil biology can make a big difference to your bottom line.