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Low-impact farming and protected cropping: lessons from South Korea

The effects of climate change are being felt across industries, environments, and communities worldwide. The Australian agricultural sector is not immune, with severe weather events and pest outbreaks significantly impacting the long-term profitability and sustainability of the sector.

Investment in mitigation strategies and preparation for natural disasters is essential to secure the future of our food and agricultural industry. I recently traveled to South Korea with a delegation of Australian representatives from industry, government, and academia to learn more about protected cropping smart farms, including greenhouses and vertical farms, and how these innovations could enable Queensland to tackle the global challenge of feeding more of the world's growing population with dramatically reduced environmental impact.

Korea is a world leader in implementing protected cropping with over 6000 hectares of greenhouse smart farms. Controlled environment agriculture is a well-developed strategy in countries such as Korea, where farming space is at a premium and where cold weather necessitates indoor farming facilities for year-round yield.

However, even in Australia, where space and warmth are plentiful, protected cropping is one of the fastest-growing horticultural sectors, increasing by 10-25% per year. Currently in Australia there are 258 hectares of protected cropping, with only 4-5 hectares located in Queensland. This represents an enormous growth opportunity for Queensland. Agriculture in Australia is projected to reach $100 billion by 2030, with protected cropping contributing 30-40% of the growth.


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