GRDC Update looks at drivers shaping agriculture

Author: Melissa Williams | Date: 01 Feb 2016

Portrait image of Robert Saik

Canadian agricultural consultant Robert Saik is a keynote speaker at the February GRDC Grains Research Update, Perth and will discuss why farmers need science and innovation. 

Photo: TheAgriTrend® Group

Canadian-based farm consultant and ‘agrologist’, Robert Saik, is a passionate global advocate for scientists and the vital research and development underpinning agricultural production.

He said the anti-science movement was one of the biggest threats to modern farming and world food security.

Mr Saik will discuss the position of science and technology in the 10 major trends likely to affect agriculture in the next decade during his keynote address to the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Grains Research Update, Perth next month.

This event is scheduled for Monday February 29 and Tuesday March 1 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and will be followed by regional GRDC Grains Research Updates in Yuna on March 2, Katanning on March 8 and Merredin on March 9.

For registration and information about venues, programs and speakers, click here.

Mr Saik, who will speak on day one of the Perth Update, is the founder of The Agri-Trend® group of companies in Canada and has driven several big advances in technology integration in agriculture. This includes the development of online farm data management system The Agri-Data® Solution.

His technical strengths are in soil chemistry, plant physiology and crop nutrition – for which he is known in Canada as a leading ‘agrologist’ (the area of soil science dealing with crop production).

He also travels the world advocating the importance of supporting modern agriculture, its scientists and the innovations behind food production.

“I believe the anti-science movement is a major threat to global food security and the voices of science are being drowned out by the voices of fear and paranoia,” Mr Saik said.

“The ability to feed people across the world already exists and we need the public to celebrate the accomplishments of fertilisers, pesticides and genetic engineering in boosting agricultural production, while also providing more sustainable ways of farming.”

Mr Saik’s GRDC Grains Research Update, Perth keynote address will be closely aligned to his 2014 book ‘The Agricultural Manifesto – 10 Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade’ and touch on the theme of his upcoming feature movie looking at the use of technology in agriculture.

He said some of the underlying forces likely to impact on the agricultural sector and its farmers to the year 2026 include:

-Activism, fanaticism or ‘AGtivism’, where the voices of fear drown the voices of reason and there is a clear and present danger to the science employed in agriculture
-Bio-Synthesis focusing on nutrient dense foods, rather than sugar dense foods
-GMO, bio-fuels and GMO organic crops that fight insects, diseases and require less fertilisers or pesticides
-Market segmentation and niches based on trait-based sales and containerised direct shipments to meet buyer specifications
-Sensor technology for water moisture and nutrients and remote monitoring using satellites, drones and robotics
-3-D Printing where parts and construction can be localised and in-real-time.

Mr Saik said vast amounts of data will also be collected about crop and livestock production during the next 10 years and, based on emerging trends and advancements, better decisions will be made on-farm.

“I hope my insights into these trends and market forces will be useful in helping Western Australian farmers fine-tune the direction of their businesses in the short to medium-term,” he said.

“Farmers are already integrating science and technology into their modern agricultural practices to provide society with a safe, reliable food supply in an environmentally sustainable manner.

“We need to ensure continued best-practice adoption of the latest advances in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, sensor integration, bio synthesis, data systems and environment sustainability to feed a growing world population.”

Mr Saik is one of more than 50 presenters scheduled to address the two-day GRDC Grains Research Update, Perth, which will also feature latest western region grains research results and a GRDC ‘backchat’ Q&A session with GRDC Western Regional Panel members and staff.

This year the Perth Update includes extended focus sessions about making the most out of early sowing opportunities, managing frost, dealing with fungal diseases and developments in pulses.

There will be valuable networking opportunities at a sundowner hosted by CBH Group and a breakfast hosted by the Grains Industry Association of WA’s (GIWA) Australian Grain Institute council.

The event coordinator for the GRDC Grains Research Updates is GIWA and further information is available from Rachel Nash by email or on 08 6262 2128.

Contact Details 

For Interviews

Rachel Nash, Grains Industry Association of WA
08 6262 2128


Melissa Williams, Cox Inall Communications
0428 884 414

GRDC Project Code GIA00004

Region West