The Urban Agriculture industry needs research support if it is going to help to improve food security

Date:  26th March 2019

The Urban Agriculture industry needs research support if it is going to help to improve food security.

Speaker: Dr Cathryn O’Sullivan. CSIRO Agriculture and Food.

Synopsis:  The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that more than 800 million people engage in urban agriculture producing more than 15% of the world’s food. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in urban agriculture in many wealthy, developed cities, with new technology and agro-architecture being employed to grow food in cities at commercial scale. This has been accompanied by an increase in media coverage. Big claims are being made, including that urban agriculture can help solve food security for growing urban populations, decrease greenhouse emissions, ‘climate proof’ farms, and provide chemical free food with no risk of pests and diseases. Many of these claims need to be rigorously tested to ensure that sound investments can be made in enterprises that are financially viable and capable of delivering on claims of social and environmental benefits.

Traditionally, CSIRO has provided biological, chemical, physical, economic and social research help traditional broadacre and horticulture farming increases productivity and decrease risk. Urban agriculture needs similar support as the industry grows and develops around the world.

There are opportunities to improve crop yields and quality by pairing advancements in environmental controls, phenomics and automation with breeding efforts to adapt traits for architecture, development and quality (taste and nutrition) allowing a more diverse set of crops to be grown in controlled-environment farms. Urban farms are uniquely placed to take advantage of urban waste energy, water and nutrients but innovations are needed to use these resources safely and economically.

In this talk Dr Cathryn O’Sullivan will discuss capability and skills that CSIRO is looking to apply to help to support the industry to contribute to the nutrition of city dwellers as urban populations continue to rise.

Bio:  Dr Cathryn O’Sullivan completed both her Bachelor and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Queensland. Her early research explored the role of microbes in the treatment of solid waste and wastewaters, the production of biofuels and the cycling of nutrients in freshwater and marine sediments.

Cathryn joined CSIRO Agriculture and Food in 2009 and her research interests have expanded to include interactions between plants and soil microbes involved in plant nutrition and disease as well as the ways that researchers can help the Urban Agriculture industry.   Her work uses microbial, molecular and physiological tools to explore ways to improve food production with a focus on disease control, nutrient use efficiency, waste reuse and alternative growing systems.

Venues Local Time Time Zone
Adelaide Waite Campus – B101-FG-R00-SmallWICWest 12:00 pm ACDT
Armidale – B55-FG-R00-Small 12:30 pm AEDT
Brisbane St Lucia QBP – Room 3.323 11:30pm AEST
Canberra Black Mountain – Discovery Lecture Theatre 12:30 pm AEDT
Narrabri Myall Vale – Conference Room 12:30 pm AEDT
Perth Floreat B40-F1-R46-Rossiter Room 09:30 am AWST
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