This week: The mental health crisis in rural Australia, inside the world of renting bees, solar-powered robot weeders to disrupt agrochemical industry and Costa Rica’s carbon-neutral coffee cooperative.

Australia

A Booming  Economy With a Tragic Price
The New York Times
In Part 1 of a two-part regional Australia series, The New York Times delves into the mental health crisis in rural Australia, the issues driving farmer suicides and how these crises seem to be worsening at a time when, at least on paper, the rural economy is quite robust..

Farmers ready for Europe free-trade deal
The West Australian
European countries have agreed to begin talks on what could be Australia’s biggest free-trade deal, against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy.

Tasmania’s fruit fly fight hits $5.5m bill, but Minister expects victory in months ahead
ABC Rural
The Tasmanian Government and the horticulture industry are confident the state’s “largest-ever single biosecurity action” will successfully eradicate fruit fly in the state by the start of spring.

The farmer wants a hive: inside the world of renting bees
The Conversation
To optimise yields, most Australian growers rent European honeybee hives during crop flowering season. Today, the beekeeping industry includes around 600,000 managed hives and is worth around A$100 million to Australia’s economy.

Abroad

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades
The Guardian
In June, a California groundskeeper will make history by taking Monsanto Co. to trial on claims it suppressed harm of Roundup

Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants
Reuters
A Swiss solar-powered robot is one of new breed of AI weeders that investors say could disrupt the $100 billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified (GM) crops that tolerate them.

Tesco to remove best before dates to cut down on post-farmgate waste
Farming UK
The UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, will remove ‘Best Before’ consumption guidance dates off nearly 70 fruit and vegetable lines.

Costa Rica coffee farmers brew up a carbon neutral future
Reuters
Costa Rica is now home to three zero-emission coffee companies plus some carbon neutral banana, pineapple and cattle producers, putting the nation at the forefront of a movement that is slowly growing.

Will AI be a bane or boon for global development?
United Nations Development Programme Blog
Global predictions for AI in agriculture suggest it will be worth more than $2.6 billion by 2025. Increased investments are propelling the development and commercial deployment of technologies, from yield prediction algorithms to drone irrigation and discovery of next-generation proteins in biotechnology.

 

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