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Centre for high-tech protected cropping systems launched to climate-proof crop production

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.

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