Centre in High Tech Protected Cropping Systems launched to climate-proof crop production

Sydney University

Bangalore, November 2022: Western Sydney University, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) Bangalore, and the Indian Institute for Spices Research (IISR) Calicut, have partnered to launch a Centre in High Tech Protected Cropping Systems to address the impact of the changing climate on crop production.

The Centre will investigate hi-tech aeroponic crop production, crop health monitoring technologies with advanced sensors and cameras, and ways to standardize pollination as part of a pilot, with a focus on innovation in aeroponics for high-value crops such as microgreens, berries, cut flowers, and spices under different lighting and nutrient conditions.

“This is an important pilot for finding cost-effective farming that is not climate dependent,” the Deputy Director General of ICAR, A K Singh said. “Production using automated glass house technology is too expensive for large-scale adoption in India. Working with Western Sydney University and other partners, we have an opportunity to bring together world-class researchers from Australia and India to standardize production systems for high-value crops like berries, greens, cut flowers, and spices,” he said.

“The collaboration builds on the very productive partnership between the University and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research,” said Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO. “Through cutting-edge research, the Centre will explore new, sustainable approaches to production to enhance food security and farming livelihood,” said Professor Glover.

“This partnership in vegetables, berries, and cut flowers at the IIHR and in spices at the IISR, plays a critical role in developing efficient, low-cost vertical growing systems for large-scale adoption – sustainable farming technologies for the future,” said Dr. Debi Sharma, Director, IIHR.

Dr. Thankamony, Director of IISR said, “Vertical farming can ensure high productivity in spaces per unit area, which means 50-60 percent more harvest per unit area. However, these resources can only be effectively leveraged when adapted to Indian conditions, requiring a targeted research and development program.”

The Centre in High Tech Protected Cropping Systems will address increasing the farming community’s produce and thereby their income. The research programs will be managed by Dr. Debi Sharma, Director, of IIHR, Dr. Thankamoni, Director, of IISR, and Dr. Nisha Rakhesh, Senior Advisor (Research Strategy), at Western Sydney University.

Western Sydney University was recently ranked number one in the world for its social, ecological, and economic impact in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings.

As part of its global mission, it is committed to collaborating with industry, education, and non-government partners to tackle society’s grand challenges and support a more just and equitable world through teaching, research, outreach, and stewardship.

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