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Profitable agriculture projects that support NRM

Released on

Released on:
Friday, 6. September 2013 - 14:00

A forum in Fremantle today (6 Sept) has been told that substantially increasing farm profit should be the goal of farming systems research projects if farmers are to adopt them for good natural resource management outcomes.

Honorary Research Fellow with the Future Farm Industries CRC Kevin Goss said that in the past, natural resource programs had relied heavily on incentives and extension to encourage practice change by farmers.

“These changes were not easily embraced and adopted by farmers because they weren't much more profitable than the programs they’d previously had in place,” Mr Goss said.

“Most NRM options fall into the category of farming systems or land use changes which have a greater inherent risk, delayed returns and diffuse, uncertain environmental responses.

”Mr Goss, the former Chief Executive Officer of the CRC, was addressing the ‘Productive land and water, healthy environment’ forum, organised by the Department of Agriculture and Food to provide a ‘think tank’ on sustainable resource use in agriculture and natural resource management.

“Recent successes from sustained investment in research and development accomplished good natural resource management by being significantly more profitable to farmers and resulting in predictable and measurable improvements to natural resource conditions,” Mr Goss said.

“Using this approach, there is a reasonable chance of farmer adoption over 30 years.

“By prioritising adoptability and whole farm profit as criteria for research projects, and a strong commitment to farmer participation in research, in future we could see more innovation and boost productivity while adapting to climate change.

“NRM programs are benefiting from this approach to achieve transformational change over time.

”Mr Goss said with the prospect of agriculture producing biomass for renewable fuels, the NRM sector could consider partnering with industries other than agriculture to support farming systems and land use changes."

He suggested the use of whole farm economic modeling to guide research and extension, the investigation of treatment-response relationships for the environment and persistence with sustainable agriculture programs because transformational change takes time.


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