A MICROWAVE with a hole in the side may look like a backyard experiment about to go horribly wrong.
But this Frankenstein prototype could soon play a crucial role in building global food security.
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, food producers are busy hunting technology to improve efficiency and yield.
And some of the machines on show at a future technologies seminar this week could provide a sneak peek into cropping practices of the future.
The seminar, to be held in Hobart on Wednesday, will feature presentations on robotics, nanotechnology, genetic modification and microwave technology.
The off-beat microwave invention, using a household kitchen oven, is being tested as a new form of selective weed control.
The technology is more environmentally friendly than chemicals and can focus on individual weeds without affecting neighbouring plants.
Other seemingly quirky concepts on show include a robot that uses sensors and algorithms for tree segmentation and fruit classification, and radiation treatment for fresh fruit and vegetables that kills fruit fly and extends shelf life.
The conference has been organised by Ausveg, the peak industry body for Australia's 9000 vegetable growers.
Ausveg spokesman Hugh Gurney said the seminar would show Australian growers how technological developments can benefit their business.
''The seminar will educate Australian growers about some of the advanced technologies being developed which may assist them with remaining efficient, productive and economically viable in the future,'' Mr Gurney said.
''We are hoping the seminar [will provide] important information to growers [and benefit] researchers and industry specialists … through close interaction and discussion with the calibre of vegetable and potato growers in attendance.''
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