Report Synopsis

Protected cropping in subtropical climates

Emily Rigby

Protected cropping is an important method for horticultural production in Australia and around the globe. Protected cropping practices provide numerous advantages over conventional farming, allowing for a more controlled, sustainable approach to crop management and increased production. With global population forecast expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, the global demand for food, feed and fibre is expected to grow by 70%. The majority of growth in production is expected to come from higher yields and increased cropping intensity, the remaining 10% from land expansion. This increase in production needs to be achieved with limited access to land and agricultural resources, a reduced rural labour force, increasing climate variability and the unknown effects of climate change.

Protected cropping offers solutions to many of these challenges including a suite of technological options for improved natural resource management; improved water and labour-saving technologies, increased yields, improved crop quality and reliability, reduced crop losses and waste, and protection from adverse effects of climate change and climate variability. Protected cropping practices provide a sustainable adaptation strategy for crop production in an increasingly uncertain climate as crops grown using this method are less affected by climate variability and weather extremes. Sustainable food production is an imperative for the future of food production and protected cropping has the potential to play a significant role in the future of food security.

This report summarises the variety of protected cropping practices and associated technologies being utilised for horticulture production in subtropical climates including an assessment of the challenges and barriers to adoption in horticulture.

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