Oiling the wheel for Boundary Bend’s olive harvesters

Australia’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil, Cobram Estate, is advertised as ‘the only oil you need,’ and while that message pertains to the delicate process of cooking, the less delicate process of harvesting the olives relies on other types of lubricants, as Bryden Coote, Branch Manager at BSC’s Swan Hill explains.

“When you have a chain worth thousands of dollars installed on a harvesting machine, it can become quite expensive if the chains do not last through the harvest season, not to mention the downtime from having to replace the chain in the middle of harvesting,” says Bryden.

Cobram Estate is the flagship brand of Boundary Bend Limited (BBL) – Australia’s largest olive farmer and producer of extra virgin olive oil. Across its multiple olive groves in the Murray Valley region of Victoria, BBL owns over 2.5 million olive trees on more than 6000 hectares of farmland.

To efficiently harvest olives from these groves, BBL has been involved in developing its own unique olive harvester machines that enable continuous harvesting rather than the discontinuous system used in most other olive growing countries. During the harvest season, these machines work 24 hours a day to pick the olives when they are at their best.

Over the past couple of years and as recommended by Bryden, Sam Griffiths, Maintenance Manager at the Boundary Bend Estate has been using CRC TAC2 chain lubricants for the maintenance of the Boundary Bend harvester machines – with more than satisfactory results.

“Every day, as part of our routine maintenance, we spray the CRC TAC2 on the harvester chains and this has helped us extend the service life of the chains considerably,” says Sam. “We only use the harvester machines during the harvest season but by keeping the chains lubricated throughout the year, we have almost halved our chain breakdowns. Now we only replace the chains once or twice a year as part of our routine maintenance.”

Iain Faber, National Channel Manager at CRC Industries explains why TAC2 is a suitable choice for lubricating high-speed chains, such as the ones in Boundary Bend’s harvesters.

“The CRC TAC2 is a dual-viscosity lubricant, which means it can be sprayed onto the chain as an oil but it firms up into a grease-like consistency as it sets, enabling it to remain in place without flinging off. Because of this unique formulation, TAC2 can penetrate into the pins and the seals in the chain to effectively protect the chain against wear.

“Moreover, the TAC2 lubricant is resistant to water wash downs, so it can be safely used in areas where water is present. It has a wide operating temperature range, so you can use TAC2 in both hot and cold temperatures.”

But TAC2 is not the only chain lubricant CRC has on offer. The CRC GEL TAC is another chain lubricant with similar properties as TAC2 but suited to different applications, as Iain explains.

“I always use the example of a motorbike and a forklift,” says Iain. “Whereas the TAC2 is best suited for high speed applications like motorbike chains, GEL TAC is designed to stay in place in low speed, high pressure applications such as the chains used in general leaf and pin chains and overhead forklifts.

“The CRC GEL TAC has the similar benefits as the TAC2 in terms of dual-viscosity and water resistance, in addition to having a higher temperature performance. The GEL TAC can withstand temperatures up to 300 degree Celsius compared to the 165 degree Celsius in TAC2. Both products are water-insoluble, meaning that they both perform very well in high water environments and resist water wash off.

Additionally, CRC also offers the Food Grade range of chain lubricants for applications where risk of incidental contact with food is present.

“The CRC Food Grade chain lubricants use a special blend of mineral oil and synthetic additives. The formulation for these lubricants is such that after you spray the oil, it forms bubbles and this foaming action gives the oil better penetration rate into the chain,” he says.

“CRC’s Food Grade range are all NSF-H1 certified and tested for a list of 25 allergens, making them safe to use across all food processing applications. CRC also has all of the certifications required for audit purposes, enabling food processors to easily produce these when required.”

Back to the context of the BBL application, Bryden says in addition to recommending the best lubrication product for each application, BSC experts can also advise on the best maintenance regime to help extend the chain longevity for customers.

“Our customers invest heavily on chains and sprockets for their equipment and it’s important that these chains are maintained as best as possible. When BSC staff visit any site, they often check the equipment and make maintenance recommendations depending on the site conditions and the equipment available on the plant,” says Bryden.

As for Sam, he says he is quite pleased with the services he receives from the BSC Swan Hill branch, particularly Bryden, with whom he has been engaging regularly for the past four years.

“BSC is a very good supplier and the team are genuinely helpful, always going out of their way to supply us the required parts and products when we need them urgently. It’s a relationship built on trust and grown over time.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au

 

           

 

Staying a ‘cut’ ahead

How Midwest Fabrication, a Queensland-based manufacturer of grain harvesting equipment, grew from building the first machine for their own farm to gaining national recognition for their products in just over two decades is the material great Aussie success stories are made of.

Martin Schutt, a second-generation grain farmer started Midwest on his family farm north of Moonie in Queensland. After purchasing his first combine harvester in 1998, Martin was frustrated with the performance of the imported cutting platforms and thought he could improve the design to gain better efficiencies in the field.

Starting from a basic sketch drawn around the kitchen table, the Schutt family were able to develop their first cutting platform in the workshop and test it in the field. The platform soon received national recognition from the contract harvesting community for its simple and efficient design. Orders started pouring in forcing the business to relocate to Dalby to be able to meet the increasing demands.

The company is renowned for its innovation winning multiple awards including Best New Innovation Award, Best Australian Agricultural Machine, Best Manufacturing Business and Business of the Year.
Martin says Midwest was the first manufacturer in the world to build a 12 metre (40 ft) front in 1998, and the 15 metre fronts followed a decade later. The advancements in innovation continue to set the standards and benchmark leading the world in grain harvesting technology now producing a whopping 18.3 metre (60 ft) harvest front, another world first.

But Midwest Fabrication’s innovations did not stop there. Over the years, the company has grown its range of draper platforms to suit different applications and fit all major combine harvester brands. Additionally, the company also produces a wide range of accessories and spare parts for its cutting platforms, including cutting knives specially designed for Australian farming conditions.

Midwest’s sole goal is to help increase harvesting efficiency for farmers and contact harvesters while reducing overheads and running costs. The wider drapers mean customers are working their harvesters to maximum capacity, saving time, fuel costs and receiving better return on their investments.

Midwest Fabrication has built a highly successful Australia wide dealer network consisting of 92 Agricultural dealers supporting our product nationally and are currently in the process of developing a one-acre factory in Dalby to bring its engineering and manufacturing facilities under one roof.
Martin believes such a rapid growth by a family business would not have been possible without dedication to continuous improvement and innovation.

“It’s only through constant improvement and being innovative that we’ve been able to achieve what we have achieved. Ever since we built our first unit, we’ve been up against some of the largest global agricultural machinery manufacturers; but through constant innovation, we’ve been able to remain ahead of the competition.

Over the past 16 years, Midwest Fabrication has been working with CBC Australia – as the largest supplier of bearings and industrial parts in Australia – to source components for its in-house designed products.

Martin says the collaboration with CBC has enabled Midwest Fabrication to refine its products further, making them more efficient and durable.

“We are continually improving the mechanical design of our products. In one example, CBC helped us replace the original four-band ‘B’ type v-belts on the main drive with the Gates high-strength Predator belts, and more recently we improved the design again and introduced the Gates Polychain carbon belts, providing a more efficient, quieter and cooler running drive belt.”

Warren Beale, CBC’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) manager for Queensland, says apart from being a key supplier, CBC also offers engineering and design supports to Midwest Fabrication where required.

“After so many years of working with Midwest Fabrication and holding regular meetings to understand their requirements, we now have a very clear understanding of the products they need each harvest season. This allows CBC to maintain the right stock level for Midwest Fabrication to meet its requirements when their demand is at its peak.

“Additionally, we also help them with engineering support and application-specific information. This might be helping with product improvements as it was in the case of the Gates Polychain belt upgrades or suggesting alternative components to make the designs lighter and more efficient,” he says.
Commenting on winning the Gold prize for Motion Asia Pacific’s Let’s Roll: Australian Business Awards 2020, Martin says the win is a result of hard work put forward by the team, as much as a result of engineering excellence and innovation.

“This award is also a recognition of our staff’s skills, their dedication to the business and their pride in their workmanship. If not for them, we would not be here today,” says Martin.

“As business owners, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day running and focussing on keeping the wheels turning and not celebrate the successes when they come along. This recognition is a great reminder for us to reflect on what we have built over the years from that sketch around the kitchen table, our significant growth, and the exciting future ahead of Midwest.”

Midwest Fabrication is a Gold Award winner at the Let’s Roll: Australian Business Awards 2020. To learn more about the Awards, click here

Paper looks into ethics of using robots in agriculture

With automation poised to transform agriculture in Australia in the coming years, Monash University researchers have published the first-ever analysis of the ethical and policy issues raised by the use of robots in agriculture.
Agriculture employs around 2.5 per cent of the country’s workforce and is a valuable export, however, according to Professor of Philosophy Robert Sparrow and Philosophy Research Fellow Dr Mark Howard, little attention has been paid to the ethical and policy challenges that will arise as agriculture is increasingly automated.
Together they investigated the prospects for, and likely impacts and ethical and policy implications of, the use of robotics in agriculture in their paper Robots in agriculture: prospects, impacts, ethics and policy, recently published in the journal Precision Agriculture.
“While there hasn’t yet been widespread adoption of robots in farming due to a lack of technological breakthroughs, it’s anticipated there will be a gradual emergence of technologies for precision farming as well as the use of automation in food processing and packaging,” Professor Sparrow said.
“Already we are seeing the development and, increasingly, the adoption of GPS-enabled autonomous tractors and harvesters, robotic milking stations and dairies, robotic fruit and vegetable pickers, drones for rounding up livestock and crop-dusting and automation in slaughterhouses, food handling, processing and packaging all exist, among others.”
The authors said with global and local food security facing profound challenges including climate change, soil depletion, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and population growth, robots could help farmers confront these challenges by improving yield and productivity, while reducing levels of fertiliser and pesticide use, as well as water wastage.
However, they stated the widespread adoption of robots in farming could have negative consequences, including mismanagement of chemicals, soil compaction due to heavy robots and potential food wastage if consumers come to expect standardised or ‘perfect’ produce.
This could also lead to further standardisation of breeding and creation via genetic modification of crops and livestock better suited to robotic harvest.
There is also a fear that smaller or struggling farms could miss out on the technology and be unable to keep up, leading to a centralisation of ownership in agriculture.
“There’s a risk that robots could impact negatively on biodiversity and on the environmental sustainability of agriculture more generally,” Dr Howard said. “Strong policy that encourages the development of robots that contribute to small-scale, local, and biodiverse agriculture and do not just promote existing unsustainable agricultural practices is a must.”
Read More: First commercial cultivated steak product
Some industry experts suggest robots could also be used to improve the wellbeing of animals in livestock facilities by enabling feeding and watering regimes to be tailored, faster identification of sick animals and administration of medication, more humane veterinary procedures, and more humane and efficient means of slaughter.
“However, it should be acknowledged that, by their very nature, intensive farming practices pose significant challenges to animal welfare,” Dr Howard said. “The activities of robots may actually exacerbate the threats to animal welfare in practice.”
On a positive note, the physically intense labour associated with agriculture work and its seasonal nature could see robots developed for tasks such as weeding, fruit and vegetable picking, food handling and packaging tasks, which could increase productivity and the amount of produce sent to market.
Labour costs could also be reduced, but this would of course mean a reduction in employment opportunities, particularly for those in rural areas where employment opportunities are scarcer.
Researchers said the industry also needed to consider the potential risk that malicious actors might try to “hack”, or launch cyber attacks against, the automation on the farms of other nations.
“The urgent need to move towards more sustainable agricultural practices while, at the same time, meeting an increased demand for agricultural produce globally, means that there is a strong ethical imperative to explore how robots might be used to advance these goals,” Professor Sparrow said.
“The scale of the current global environmental crisis, and the challenge it poses to food security, suggests that every option to try to improve the sustainability of agriculture should be considered.”
Authors said a holistic approach to the uptake of robot technology in agriculture was required, firstly to address public concerns and the social and political impacts that may arise, as well as comprehensive consideration of the ethical and policy ramifications of their use
 

Natural Evolution to benefit from $18b food waste opportunity

A scorching afternoon in far North Queensland, boiling bitumen and a hand of green cavendish bananas crushed into dust by the wheel of the tractor. This was how Krista and Rob Watkins drove head first into an innovative use for the 500 tonnes of bananas destined for landfill in North Queensland each week.
Krista and Rob Watkins’ company, Natural Evolution is the first company in the world to commercially produce gluten-free flour from bananas. It now has an ever-growing range of highly nutritious food products produced from waste bananas and sweet potatoes. Ranging from its signature Green Banana Baking Flour, through to baking pre-mixes, health supplements, skincare, and now vodka.
According to a recent report published by the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, trading as Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), by creating value-added products from food waste, food and beverage businesses such as Natural Evolution could be contributing $18 billion in economic value by 2030.
“Being able to undertake scientific research was essential to our ability to scale up, increase our production capacity and expand our product range. I really encourage other businesses to tap into the collaboration and resource-sharing that FIAL makes possible” said Natural Evolution founder and managing director, Krista Watkins.
FIAL supports businesses such as Natural Evolution to innovate through connecting them with the funding and collaborative research expertise needed to commercialise innovative products and services.
“With the majority of Australian food and beverage businesses being small-to-medium enterprises, providing these businesses with access to the expertise needed to innovate is critical,” said FIAL general manager innovation, Dr. Barry McGookin.
Krista Watkins will be taking part in a live Q&A on collaborative innovation platform, the Food Matrix, on Thursday 19 November. Register via the Food Matrix. Natural Evolution was also featured in the fifth edition of FIAL’s Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book.
 

Surging demand for plant-based meat

The global meat sector at present is facing unprecedented level of disruption and competition, due to mounting growth of plant-based meat alternatives across many categories, according to market research company Future Market Insights. Earlier, plant-based meat alternative products warranted limited shelf space and were meant for niche consumers. With increased awareness of “Veganuary” multiple manufacturers have expanded new product line for plant-based products owing to increased vegan or indeed flexitarian diet.
The global food and beverage recent industry changes illustrate the growth in plant-based alternatives that has brought disruption. Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products.
Key point from the plant-based beef market study

  • A latest study by an ESOMAR certified market research and consultancy company, forecasts impressive growth of the Plant Based Beef market at over 22.7% CAGR between 2020 and 2030
  • Based on the source, the soy-based protein segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef, while wheat-based protein segments are expected to grow prominently in the forecasted period of 2020-2030
  • Based on the product type, burger patty segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef
  • As alternate protein gains traction in the market owing to the increasing awareness about the environmental impact of food choices consumers make, the majority of the population is shifting towards plant based beef and is expected to gain traction in near future
  • Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products

New product development fuelling plant-based products demand
Increasing demand for innovative products has paved the way for product development across frozen, chilled and ambient segments. This innovation helps consumers with a wider choice of brands and products, and allows plant-based beef to advance improved shelf space and recognition.
Read More: A bearing for all harvest seasons
UK is the global leader for vegan food launches. In 2019 approximately 18% of new food launches were vegan. Tesco has developed wicked kitchen range of meat-free products.
Who is winning?
A few of the leading players operating in the Plant Based Beef market are Impossible Foods, Gardein by Conagra Brands, MorningStar Farms, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Symrise, Roquette Frères S.A., Kellogg’s, Tyson Foods, Sotexpro SA, Crown Soya Protein Group, Puris Proteins, Ingredion, Beneo GmbH, Glanbia, Fuji Oil Co., and other players.
Several leading manufacturers of Plant Based Beef are focusing on partnering with prominent players in the market to increase its business footprints and to increase their production capacity. Leading players of Plant Based Beef are investing in research and development to produce organic, non-GMO ingredients for plant-based beef.

How to better manage animal disease threats

Australia will be better prepared to manage significant animal biosecurity threats, such as African swine fever (ASF), through a new comprehensive online field guide for emergency animal diseases.

Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the guide will help vets with early detection, diagnosis and control of exotic and emerging infectious diseases in livestock.

“Early identification and reporting is critical to minimise the devastating impact that these diseases can pose for our animals, industries, jobs and environment,” Ms O’Connell said.

“ASF and Foot and Mouth Disease could wipe out industries, jobs, impact on trade and availability of the Australian produce we all enjoy, so we need to be as prepared as possible because the threat is real.

“Australia’s vets are vital for biosecurity. If the unthinkable happened and a significant animal disease was to hit our shores, our vets would play a key role in managing and minimising the risks.

READ MORE: Study establishes new method of developing disease-resistant crops

“This guide will help vets identify emergency animal diseases in the field, ensure they consider priority diseases when conducting diagnosis and take appropriate action when they suspect signs of a biosecurity threat.

“The disease list included in the guide will be reviewed and updated to address emerging threats so we are best placed to manage them as they arise.

“We have some of the best vets in the world and this gives them another tool to improve the work they do in protecting Australia from deadly animal diseases.”

The guide is in addition to a range of measures in place to better manage animal biosecurity threats. This includes increased intervention measures at our borders, testing of intercepted meat produce for ASF and FMD, as well as stronger enforcement approaches for biosecurity breaches relating to meat products.

A roundtable was recently held between leaders, scientists and governments to discuss the actions needed to keep African swine fever out of Australia. A simulation exercise will also be held later this year to test our disease response capabilities to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be.

 

Bringing gaming to farming: augmented reality in agriculture

In what’s believed will be a world first in agriculture, researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, will use popular gaming platforms, sensor technologies and next-generation data interaction techniques to help prawn farmers make decisions in a bid to boost productivity.

Water conditions in prawn ponds can quickly change from healthy to threatening in a matter of hours, but current methods for monitoring water quality are labour intensive and cause significant delays between the measurements and being able to see important trends in the data.

Speaking at D61+ Live in Sydney, Australia’s premier science, technology and innovation event, CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Mingze Xi said they have developed technology that will give farmers near real-time understanding of key water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen and pH levels.

“This is done using state-of-the-art wearable and hands-free technologies that they use while they’re walking around and managing the ponds,” Xi said.

“Prawn farmers tell us that they don’t actually farm prawns, they farm water quality.

READ MORE: Dominos launches augmented reality app

“This could give them the information they need to better manage animal health and feed inputs, for example, and even share the visuals in real time with managers in the office or external experts for fast input.”

The technology draws on CSIRO’s domain expertise in agriculture and the capabilities of its data and digital specialist arm, Data61. It was developed by CSIRO’s Digiscape Future Science Platform and uses the power of Data61’s Senaps platform, which helps businesses connect data in a range of different formats, integrate complex analytics and turn it into useful intelligence that can make a difference.

Pacific Reef Fisheries, a prawn farm operator in Ayr near Townsville in northern Queensland, is working with CSIRO to provide real world conditions for testing the system.

Environmental manager Kristian Mulholland said augmented reality in the aquaculture industry had the potential to transform productivity in the industry.

“Augmented reality technology could be a huge game changer for our industry to make water quality monitoring so much quicker and easier, all in real time, and bringing a visual aspect of data display to efficiently make more accurate management decisions,” he said.

“We could gain huge productivity improvements using this technology, and we’re incredibly excited to be a part of its development.”

CSIRO has chosen prawn farming as the first agricultural industry to test this technology, with a view to expanding into other sectors shortly.

“We can see this technology becoming a normal part of farm operations no matter what you farm, as all types of farming become more reliant on gathering and understanding data from sensor technologies,” Xi said.

In addition to augmented reality technology, cutting edge projects across artificial intelligence, privacy, security and blockchain, will be on show at CSIRO’s D61+ Live in Sydney on 2 and 3 October 2019.

DuPont launches dairy-free protective cultures for plant-based fermented products

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has announced a new ingredient – Holdbac YM VEGE – as the latest addition to the DuPont Danisco Holdbac line of protective cultures, known for their ability to extend shelf-life and secure the quality of products by holding off yeast and mold spoilage – all without use of synthetic preservatives.

Now, Holdbac YM VEGE brings this effective and label-friendly spoilage prevention to plant-based, fermented foods and beverages, at a time when customer demand in this space has never been higher.

“The industry has seen enormous growth for fermented plant-based products in recent years, driven by higher numbers of flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan consumers around the world. These shifts in diets are driven by a number of factors, including a search for improved health that comes with a plant-based diet, ethical choices toward foods with lower environmental impact and which are deemed better for animal welfare, and switching to dairy alternatives for lactose-intolerant consumers,” said Eve Martinet-Bareau, global product manager, cultures for plant-based fermented food and beverages.

READ MORE: Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

“DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has been working with customers for decades as consumer demands for plant-based options have increased, and we are constantly looking for ways to innovate in this space,” added Martinet-Bareau. “For example, in May 2018, we launched a new cultures line – Danisco Vege Cultures – especially designed for fermented plant-based products, helping customers attain desired taste and texture profiles in a wide variety of plant-based dairy alternatives and beverages.”

However, with that demand came certain challenges for producers of fermented goods, including the need to:

  • Gain market share in the fast-growing plant-based food sector;
  • consistently ensure high-quality products with the desired taste and texture, particularly across regions with differing consumer preferences;
  • secure that quality throughout a product’s shelf-life;
  • address the fast-growing demand for friendly labeled consumer products;
  • make a substantial contribution to the sustainability of the food and beverage sector; and
  • provide consumers with products that improve their health and wellbeing.

“As more consumers look for fermented food and drinks, our HOLDBAC® YM VEGE cultures will help our customers meet that demand.”

This innovative new ingredient also offers customers the ability to make a significant difference in terms of environmental and social impact through reduced food waste and plant-based alternatives. The potential impact is massive: DuPont has estimated that if just 5 percent of the global yogurt market is replaced with plant-based alternatives made with Danisco Vege and Holdbac YM Vege cultures, the carbon dioxide emission saving would theoretically be as high as 3,000,000 tons CO2 annually. This would be roughly equivalent to 1,700,000 EU-based cars off the roads.

“We are thrilled to add Holdbac YM Vege to our range of plant-based and sustainable offerings,” said Mikkel Thrane, Global Sustainability Lead for DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. “We look at our environmental footprint through the lens of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we are proud to say that this culture supports at least three – SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 12 (responsible production and Consumption) and SDG 13 (climate action). Holdbac YM Vege is helping us facilitate the transition to a healthier and more environmental-friendly diet.”

This transition to a healthier diet for people and the planet is powered by DuPont’s expertise in microbiology, food protection and fermentation, as well its commitment to developing and offering more sustainable ingredients for customers

v2food and CSIRO launch plant-based meat alternative

Australia’s newest plant-based meat startup, v2food, has been launched via an innovative partnership between CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods Australia.

v2food is a sustainable, plant-based alternative to meat. It looks like meat, cooks like meat and tastes like meat. It was formed by CSIRO’s Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures, a part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), in 2018.

Competitive Foods Australia, the company behind Hungry Jack’s, also contributed seed funding to help launch the startup. With the backing of both government and industry, v2food had all the right ingredients for success from day one. The company is led by former Masterfoods and PepsiCo research director, Nick Hazell.

The company’s rapid growth, from foundation to national launch in eight months, is a result of the team’s access to CSIRO’s expansive network of expertise.

CSIRO provided research and development resources to v2food on a research-for-equity arrangement. While a one-man-team at the beginning, Hazell had access to hundreds of the best scientific minds to help perfect the product.

READ MORE: Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

“Making meat alternatives from plants is not a new idea but at v2food we’ve taken it a step further,” said Hazell. “We are on a journey to make plant-based food both taste better and be more sustainable. The protein substitutes available to date simply don’t taste as good as meat and they are not affordable.

“We’ve drawn upon the best food, nutrition and sustainability science from CSIRO to develop a sustainable and nutritious product, with an unmatched texture and flavour.

The goal is for our product to be a delicious alternative to meat, accessible to every Australian,” said Hazell.

Recognising that there is a need for a ‘version 2’ of the food system, v2food’s range of plant-based meat products taste great and is suited for all consumers.

Made from legumes, the company’s ‘mince’ looks and tastes like quality meat and contains added fibre and nutrients.

“We seem to have the right resources for success,” chairman and CEO of Competitive Foods Australia Jack Cowin said. “With CSIRO’s outstanding research and technology capabilities, the passion of the v2food team led by Nick Hazell and Competitive Foods Australia’s ability to help build and commercialise businesses, we believe that we have the ingredients for a successful venture.

“We’ve seen a huge opportunity for plant-based proteins and the category is set to explode. I’ve eaten beef all my life but I’ve tasted the v2food and it tastes as good as beef.

“Therefore, we can’t wait to take v2food to consumers with some fantastic new products,” he said.

v2food has been collaborating with the grain and meat industries to add plant-based meat to the Australian agricultural story. CSIRO projects this new industry to be worth more than $6 billion by 2030 in Australia. This provides a big opportunity for existing meat and grain producers. It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will need twice the amount of food we consume today.

Australia doesn’t currently have the capability to process legumes for plant-based meat alternatives. v2food, with the help of CSIRO, is working on developing this capability to create an all Australian value chain.

v2food will begin to appear in restaurants and cafes throughout the remainder of the year and aims to have a leading presence in-store and in cafes around Australia by early 2020.

Australian and Chinese meat sectors sign MOU

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian and Chinese meat sectors highlights the importance of China to Australian industry and underlines a commitment to collaboration on both sides, according to Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson.

The MOU is the result of 18 months of preparations and discussions which kicked off at the China International Meat Industry Week in 2018.

AMIC CEO Mr Hutchinson signed The China Australia Red Meat Agreement (CARMA) MOU with the China Meat Association in Chengdu, China today on behalf of the Australian Meat Industry Council, Meat & Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation.

“China is the biggest export market for Australian meat, and maintaining and enhancing our relationship with this critical partner is essential for the future of our industry. This MOU serves to reinforce the strong value our sector places on the relationship and our great respect for China as a very important trading partner,” he said.

Input sought on Middle East sheep exports

A discussion paper outlining policy options for sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the northern summer months is now available for stakeholder comment.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said that live sheep exports were an important part of Australia’s agricultural sector, and underpinned 3,450 jobs across rural and regional Australia.

“The export from Australia of live sheep shipped to, and through, the Middle East resumed on September 23 of this year after the Department of Agriculture prohibited these exports during the northern summer.

READ MORE: Improving oversight in live animal exports

“Feedback on the discussion paper will inform a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS), which will determine the future regulation of live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the northern summer months from 2020 onwards.

“The discussion paper outlines four proposed policy option ideas.

“We are seeking input from stakeholders on the potential economic and regulatory impact of each idea but also welcome alternative options.

“I urge anyone who has a stake in Australia’s live sheep export industry to jump online and have their say on the discussion paper.”

In 2017–18 Australia exported around 2 million live sheep valued at over $259 million to trading partners wanting our high-quality live sheep.

Bringing back the flavour

Store brought tomatoes can be bland. Recently scientists have discovered that it is because domesticated tomatoes are missing over 5,000 genomes compared to their wilder cousins, including the one that gives them their distinctive taste. Thanks to this research, store bought tomatoes may soon regain their flavour. This is not limited to tomatoes; many different products have lost unique properties over the years are now beginning to bring them back.

Tomatoes are an integral part of many recipes from pasta sauce, to shakshuka to the humble BLT. Giving them back their flavor will increase consumer satisfaction in products containing them, but how did we get to this place to begin with?

Over humanity’s 12,000 years as an agricultural society, farmers have selected certain strains of fruits and vegetables that demonstrated particular qualities — specifically fruit size, shelf-life and growth speed. This selective production has meant that certain qualities were encouraged while others were suppressed.

Due to the primitive nature of the science at the time it was also hard to fully understand the effects this would have. In the case of tomatoes, it made them bigger, last longer and grow faster but in return they lost the iconic flavor that made them so popular. Though we may imagine this happened recently it was during the earlier years of our modern era circa 1800, well before the advent of modern GMO’s, that tomatoes started to lose their flavor.

With modern techniques researchers were able to find the gene central to providing flavour to the fruit. Thanks to this development producers are now looking to re-introduce this forgotten flavour gene back into mainstream tomatoes. It is important to note that it was through a modern approach that this was achieved.

Many may believe that a rejection of modern applications means we can return to a more flavourful sustainable time, but this is far from the truth. Not only would rejecting modern methods be a step backwards in production, it would generate more waste and reduce sustainability. Control methods in modern applications and developments are a much more secure path for creating sustainable production methods.

Modern technology also allows food manufacturers to have more of an impact on the flavour of their foods. From keeping produce fresher for longer to making sure that precise amounts of ingredients are mixed while making a product these technologies allow for precise production of quality goods.

For example, smoking houses imbue smoky flavours into cured meats. However, good control is necessary to ensure that the meat receives an even cover of smoke during the process, or the product may end up with an uneven flavour. These steps may have been previously irregularly carried out due to the unbalance smoke distribution or lack of precision in the required timing to impart smoke flavour.

Technology such as manufacturing operations management (MOM) software allows for detailed control over a large production system. In the case of a smoking house it is able to balance fan motors to give the meat an even balance of smoke while also optimising power usage and timings.

With one in place a plant can achieve the production rate necessary to keep up with current demand while providing high levels of control that reduces waste. This is because the system will also be able to track the health of the plant and allow operation managers to take better predictive or preventative measures to lower waste.

MOM software also helps manufacturers become more agile, meaning that production lines can integrate steps that may have been in the traditional recipe but were removed, at the beginning of industrial production, due to being hard to integrate into an automated process.

These modern tools mean that we can actively bring back forgotten flavours without discarding the benefits of modern production methods and while remaining sustainable, allowing us to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Modernising agricultural research and development

A thriving agricultural sector underpins the future success of Australian regional communities and national economy and depends on our farmers getting strong returns at the farm gate.

A discussion paper launched recently is calling for ideas to modernise Australia’s Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) to support the next wave of innovation for Australian farmers.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said Australian agriculture is an international success story and the Government is working to ensure farmers can build on that success.

“Our farmers feed and clothe our nation and send safe, high-quality, sustainable products to markets around the globe,” McKenzie said. “Farming underpins profitable farming families, strong rural and regional communities and contributes to our national economy.

“That’s why our Government is committed to realising a $100 billion industry by 2030.

“Agriculture in the 21st century will be science-led, employ more cutting-edge technology and need highly skilled workers.

“If we’re to position agriculture as an agile, industry of choice for the 21st century we need to see what improvements we can make that will help us get there.

“This is an opportunity for those who have a stake in the system to be involved so we can make sure our agriculture sector is operating as effectively and efficiently as it can.

“This discussion paper is about modernising our agricultural research and development to ensure the RDC system is delivering value for our levy and tax payers into the future.”

Modernising the Research and Development Corporation system: Discussion paper is available for comment until 4 November, 2019.

Discussion paper questions:

  • Is the current RDC system delivering value for levy payers and taxpayers? In what ways?
  • What are some of the benefits of keeping the same number of RDCs?
  • What are some of the benefits of changing the number of RDCs?
  • What are some of the cross-sectoral issues being faced by the wider agricultural sector?
  • How can RDCs increase collaboration to ensure better investment in, and returns from, cross-sectoral, transformative and public good research?
  • What are the cultural changes necessary in RDCs to achieve a modern fit-for-purpose RDC system?
  • What other ways are there for increasing investment in cross-sectoral, transformative and public good research?
  • What is the best way for RDCs to engage with levy payers to inform investment decisions?
  • How can we encourage increased investment in the RDC system from the private sector and international partners?
  • How can we form stronger linkages between the RDC system and the food value chain?
  • What changes might encourage improved RDC collaboration with the private sector, including those outside the agricultural sector?
  • Where should the balance of investment between R&D and extension lie?
  • How could RDCs play a stronger role in extension service delivery, in light of existing private and state government extension efforts?
  • How could RDCs help researchers, entrepreneurs and others better engage with producers to accelerate uptake?
  • How could industry and levy payers drive increased uptake of R&D?
  • How might RDCs be able to increase their role in policy research and development and participate in policy debate alongside industry representative bodies?
  • If RDCs were to play a greater role in this area how could this activity be clearly distinguished from partisan and political activity, which must remain a role for industry representative bodies?

Digitisation makes for more productive and sustainable farming

Progressive digitisation is increasingly important in the farming industry: data-supported targeted application of fertiliser and crop protection products, soil analysis sensors and autonomous operation are just a few of the buzz words in the current discussion around Farming 4.0 and smart farming.

“Smart Farming can support more productive and sustainable farming via an accurate and resource-efficient approach,” said Dr Jan Regtmeier, director product management at Harting IT Software Development. Regtmeier demonstrates application of the Harting Mica and its benefits for agriculture. The Edge Computer controls processes and procedures seamlessly and records all of the relevant data. “This gives farmers security, also creating consumer trust,” Regtmeier said.

Two application scenarios show how Mica gathers data. In the first one, Harting Mica  records data from two sets of scales, which are used to weigh tractor and trailer, recording the weight of maize delivered. The tractor is also given a single ID to ensure that it is uniquely assigned to the crop area. The data recorded is processed and sent to the Cloud for further evaluation. In the second application scenario, Mica records data during the critical mashing process. The data is then used for process optimisation with data analytics.

“Data-supported farming allows for new approaches, ensuring sustainable food production now and in the future,” explains Dries Guth, principal innovation manager and Head of the IoT Innovation Lab at itelligence. Data collated via sensors, from the soil and farming machinery and satellite imagery and fed into intelligent systems supports not only yield optimisation, but also the resource-saving application of water and crop protection products. “It is also about exploring new forms of food production, as we are now seeing with the successes in Urban Farming and Vertical Farming for example,” said Dries Guth.

“The potential for smart farming is huge,” says Regtmeier with conviction. “The farming industry has only just begun to make use of digitalisation.”

Varied conditions and modest prospects for winter crops

ABARES’s latest crop report reveals mixed prospects for Australia’s winter crop, according to ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday.

“Winter crop production is forecast to rise by 11 percent in 2019–20 to 33.9 million tonnes but falls short of the 10-year average to 2018-19 by 16 percent,” Gooday said.

“Wheat and canola production is forecast to increase 10 and 6 per cent respectively, but both are expected to fall significantly below the 10-year average to 2018-19.

“Barley production is forecast to increase by 14 per cent to around 9.5 million tonnes which brings it 6 percent above the 10-year average to 2018‑19.

“Crop production deteriorated in regions across New South Wales and Queensland, due to unfavourable growing conditions over winter. Crop production in these states is forecast to be very much below average.

“On the other hand, crops in Victoria were in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring thanks to generally favourable growing conditions over winter.

READ MORE: Commercially reared bees deliver active ingredient to protect crops

“Crops in Western Australia received timely winter rainfall to help boost yield prospects to around average for most crops after a late break to the season.

“South Australia received sufficient winter rainfall in most major growing regions, but the same can’t be said for northern cropping regions with their prospects generally below average.

“Early spring rainfall will be important to final crop outcomes.”

According to the latest seasonal outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, September rainfall is likely to be above average in Western Australia and below average in most other cropping regions. October rainfall is likely to be below average in most cropping regions.

“If realised, above average September rainfall in Western Australia would give cereal crops in the state a strong chance of achieving average to above average yields,” Mr Gooday said.

Gooday said the seasonal conditions outlook for early spring in eastern Australia is likely to constrain crop prospects in southern New South Wales, and northern cropping regions in Victoria and South Australia.

However, there’s a good chance that most cropping regions in southern Victoria, and central and southern South Australia will still achieve average yields.

Gooday said outlook for summer crops is unfavourable due to poor seasonal conditions in northern New South Wales and Queensland.

“Area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 28 percent in 2019–20 to around 758,000 hectares—production of grain sorghum, cotton and rice are all forecast to fall,” Gooday said.

Improving oversight of live animal exports

An independent inspector-general of Live Animal Exports to oversee regulation of the industry is a step closer today with the Bill to establish the position as a statutory appointment passing the Senate.

Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the community deserved greater assurance that animal welfare outcomes for export livestock were being met and monitored.

“Australia’s livestock export industry is an important contributor to our rural and regional communities and to our national economy valued at $1.7 billion and supporting thousands of jobs,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It’s a legitimate trade, however, it won’t be conducted at the expense of animal welfare standards.

READ MORE: Minister moves on sheep exports

“This legislation is concrete proof of this government’s continued commitment to improving the trade—making sure the trade is well regulated and above board.

“Support for the Inspector-General of Live Animal Exports Bill 2019 means there’ll be an entrenched independent check on the Department of Agriculture’s application of the regulations and its exercise of power.

“Our livestock export system is already world class and the Inspector-General will only enhance that. I am confident that the Bill will pass the House of Representatives and become law.

“Once it does I will appoint a suitably qualified person to make sure the system is operating as it should—driving positive change in the industry, improving regulator performance and providing greater confidence to the general community about livestock exports.”

Commercially reared bees deliver active ingredient to protect crops

Bee Vectoring Technologies International has announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Clonostachys rosea CR-7 (CR-7) for use as a fungicide on commercial crops.  CR-7 is the first registered active ingredient for the Canadian-based company and the first active ingredient approved by the EPA for application via bees, known as “bee vectoring,” in which BVT is a specialist operator.

Sold under the brand name Vectorite with CR-7, the product is labeled for numerous high-value crops, including strawberries, blueberries, sunflowers and almonds. With this approval, BVT is positioned to officially launch and begin to generate revenue with Vectorite with CR-7, starting with this year’s autumn and winter blueberry and strawberry season in the US. The registration permits BVT to make positive crop protection claims when selling Vectorite with CR-7.

“Not only is this a critical milestone for BVT in terms of the commencement of scalable commercialisation and revenue, but it represents a groundbreaking shift in how plant care products can be applied,” said Ashish Malik, CEO of BVT. “By using commercially reared bees to deliver biological products, growers can protect crops, increase crop yields and enhance their sustainable growing practices by reducing the use of chemicals and other costly and increasingly scarce resources including water, fuel and labor.”

BVT is pursuing regulatory approval from other key countries and, because the EPA serves as an affirmative model for regulatory agencies outside the US, these review processes should move faster and more easily.

“According to industry statistics, to establish the high levels of safety and efficacy required to bring a new crop protection product to market costs, on average, more than $410 million and 11 years of internal research and development, university crop trials, and grower demos. This registration is a valuable and substantial asset for BVT, and brings considerable credibility within the industry.” said Michael Collinson, Chairman of the Board of Directors for BVT. “The BVT team has succeeded in developing a novel and effective alternative solution to traditional chemical pesticides and has done so at a fraction of the average industry cost. We are incredibly pleased to have accomplished this feat and are both proud and excited to put the BVT solution into the hands of farmers in the U.S. and are looking forward to future approvals in major agricultural regions around the world.”

The EPA’s registration makes VECTORITE with CR-7, Registration Number 90641-2, available immediately for sale as a registered fungicide for use on the labelled crops

First pea genome to help improve crops of the future

A global team including scientists from The University of Western Australia has assembled the first genome of the field pea, which provides insight into how the legume evolved and will help aid future improvements of the crop.

The study, published today in Nature Genetics, has important implications for global nutrition and the sustainability of crops, with field peas providing an important plant-based protein source for human food and animal feed.

Professors David Edwards and Jacqueline Batley from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences and UWA’s Institute of Agriculture were co-investigators in the research and said that the field pea had a much larger and more complex genome compared to other legumes.

“The pea genome assembly spans about 4.45 thousand million letters,” Edwards said. “But it’s only with relatively recent technological innovations that we’ve been able to sequence and assemble such large genomes.”

READ MORE: Ag-tech app solutions delivering better results for farmers

Batley said the research built on pioneering concepts of inheritance developed by Gregor Mendel, a 19th century monk.

“With the pea genome sequenced, we can now start to understand the basis for the variation which has evolved,” Batley said.

“Mendel analysed the inheritance of different pea traits such as wrinkled peas, and he demonstrated that these traits were passed on from one generation to the next, a foundation for Darwin’s later discoveries in evolution.”

“More than 150 years later, we’ve now assembled the pea genome and can start to understand the DNA basis of the inheritance observed by Mendel.”

This research was supported by the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation and by the Australian Research Council.

Global Table Conference: John Kerry calls for smarter agriculture to feed growing population

The former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, warned that feeding a rapidly growing world population would be one of the greatest challenges of climate change.

The amount of food wasted was not sustainable with the impact of climate change and the world’s population set to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion in the next 35 years, said Kerry, in his opening keynote address at the Global Table conference at Melbourne Showgrounds on Tuesday morning.

The three-day food innovation and agribusiness summit brought together global industry leaders and innovators from the Asia-Pacific, America, Europe and the Middle East, to discuss the future of food.

While a third of all food went to waste in wealthy countries, nearly half of the 8,000 child deaths each day globally were caused by lack of food, said Kerry, who succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state for the last four years of the Obama administration.

“Right now today every one in nine people wakes up in the morning with hunger pains and they go to bed with an empty stomach,” Kerry said. “We have to increase food production by 60 per cent between now and 2050 just to keep pace.”

READ MORE: How climate change could change the face of Australian agriculture

Growing more food was only part of the challenge, said the former Democrat Party presidential nominee, who lost his 2004 bid for the White House to George W. Bush by only one state.

“We have to become better stewards of the land. The truth is we are not smart enough that way,” Kerry said. He also called for improvements to food storage, transport and distribution.

Switching to renewable energy sources was an urgent priority to address climate change, Kerry said.

“Anybody who persists in putting before people the notion that you have to make a choice: you either get to have jobs and prosperity or you can protect the environment and the future, that’s a lie,” he said.

Reducing emissions and choosing renewable energy remained the best solution to combat climate change.

“The solution to climate change is staring us in the face. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky thing. Basically it’s called energy policy. That’s the solution to climate change: energy policy.

“The choices of how we produce electricity, how we transport ourselves from place to place, how we do industry without polluting.”

TAFE graduate loves role at AEGIC

Baking whiz and TAFE NSW student Sabrina Lim knows precisely what she needs to progress her career.

After graduating university in 2016, Sabrina landed a job as a food scientist in baking at the prestigious Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC), researching and testing Australian wheat varieties.

Australian wheat has an excellent reputation and is in demand in international markets, especially in Asia. About 65-75 per cent of Australia’s total wheat production is exported each year.

“My role at AEGIC Sydney involves a variety of tests on wheat varieties, working with cakes, sponges and bread, researching how different flours perform in terms of texture and crumb structure,” Lim said.

When an opportunity to expand her skills and knowledge of baking at TAFE NSW Ryde came up, she leapt on it.

“Each year AEGIC runs the LA Judge Award for Baking Apprentice of the Year, and one of the judges was TAFE NSW teacher Denise McCallum. She suggested I enrol in the Certificate III in Retail Baking to expand my skills.”

Lim completed the Certificate III one day a week while working and is grateful she was able to fit her study around work and home life.

“I’ve always been a keen home baker, and the TAFE NSW course gave me fun, practical experience working with different baked goods. The knowledge I gained has helped round out my understanding of how different varieties of flours can be used to produce different results.”

The grains industry makes an essential contribution to the Australian economy. In 2017–18, production of grains, oilseeds and pulse crops accounted for around 21 per cent ($12.8 billion) of the total gross value of farm production and about 23 per cent of the total value of farm export income.

AEGIC increases value in the Australian grains industry by gathering, analysing and sharing market intelligence the industry needs to breed, classify, grow and supply grain that markets prefer. AEGIC has offices in Perth and Sydney staffed by leading industry experts. Facilities include research laboratories, a pilot mill, pilot bakery and commercial analytical laboratories.

Lim’s supervisor at AEGIC said, “The skills Sabrina acquired at TAFE NSW have made her a valuable asset to us.”

“The cake and pastry knowledge Sabrina gained through TAFE NSW has been especially appreciated. Sabrina is a joy to work with and perfectly complements our team.”

Lim said her teachers at TAFE NSW gave her the drive she needed to succeed and provided compelling and engaging course content.

“The teachers at TAFE NSW were incredible and took an interest in what I was doing at work and encouraged me on a personal level to succeed. I also run training courses as part of my job and have adapted my own teaching style based on the methods of the teachers I had at TAFE NSW.”