THE INVESTMENT manager of Uniseed, a company dedicated to commercializing start-up businesses said the convergence of agriculture and technology was creating a number of opportunities for growers, especially in terms of improvements to crop varieties.
John Kurek, Uniseed, said ag-tech was on the cusp of a boom.
“At a high level we are seeing the convergence between technology and agriculture,” he said.
“You see a start-up such as Nexgen (managed by Uniseed) and what it is doing in terms of molecular biology, plant breeding and agronomy, that convergence is going to create high value crops for growers.”
Mr Kurek said Australian farmers were especially well placed to benefit from advances in plant breeding using traits identified via ag tech platforms.
“Improved cultivars with higher yields in harsh Australian conditions are on the horizon thanks to work being done on traits that deal with abiotic stress such as drought.”
Brian Ruddle, managing director of Nexgen Plants, which specialises in non-genetically modified plant traits, said ag-tech was critical in helping identify key traits in plants.
“We are busy explaining our technology and how it works, we’re going to the plant breeding sector in a range of crops and talking to them about what we can do using ag-tech products.”
Nexgen has developed a range of traits in crops as diverse as tomatoes, capsicums and rice, with Mr Ruddle saying the technology could be transferred across a range of species.
He said the company was also talking to growers to find out what research priorities they had.
“From our point of view we’re looking at double stacking of traits, so you get a plant that is not just salt tolerant, but has better disease resistance.”
Mr Kurek said end use qualities were also a factor.
“If we can develop more niche products that have specific attributes that allow farmers to obtain a premium then it will provide value for farmers.”