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Smart Farming to Boost Sustainability

Australia Smart Farming Partnerships

Australia’s La Trobe University has been awarded AU$ 2.5 million for a project aimed at improving environmental performance and climate resilience among agricultural producers.

According to a recent press release, Minister for Agriculture Senator Bridget McKenzie and Member for Nicholls Damian Drum announced funding for the National Landcare Program, Smart Farming Partnerships initiative.

Benefits of Smart Farming Initiative

  • They shared that it is a cutting edge approach to putting value on farms’ natural assets and sustainable practices.
  • The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement) explained that the project would enhance agricultural productivity at a time when new approaches to sustainable farming are in demand.
  • The successful consortium, which is developed and led by the University, will provide a means for farmers, who adopt sustainable practices, to measure the benefit of their efforts to improve the environment.
  • It is important work and the University is proud to be leading it.

The Initiative

  • The Chief Investigator, who is from the University’s Centre for Future Landscapes, shared that the project will develop farm-scale “Natural Capital Accounts” (NCA).
  • This will enable producers to quantify the benefits of sustainable practices and optimise farm management for both production and environmental outcomes.
  • Researchers will work with 50 farms across New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania from 2020 to 2021.
  • Their work will include assessing financial, production and environmental performance to provide verifiable information about the value of natural assets such as soil carbon, vegetation and biodiversity on those farms.
  • Customised farm-scale Natural Capital Accounts will enable producers to leverage their environmental performance for market advantage.
  • Moreover, it will provide potential investors with information on the sustainability and long-term profitability of farming entities.

Problems Addressed

A project member from the Australian National University said the project will address a lack of empirical evidence and robust statistical analysis about relationships between natural capital and farm profitability, which is hindering wider uptake of sustainable agricultural practices.

The lack of methods to generate standardised, verifiable information on the relationship between environmental performance and farm productivity hinders the ability of producers, who do adopt sustainable practices, to quantify their contribution to an improved environment and how much they benefit financially from these practices.

Farmers are the stewards of large tracts of land and this project will yield many benefits for farmers in both the short and long term.

The project will form the cornerstone for proving the value of nature for farming.

The project involves 10 consortium members from across the agricultural, government and non-government organisation sectors.

It includes La Trobe University and The Arthur Rylah Institute at the Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, among others.

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