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2020 Autumn - Evolving conservation agriculture

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Farm Policy Journal: Vol 17 No 1 2020 Autumn - Full Journal - Evolving conservation agriculture

Australian Farm Institute (2020), Evolving conservation agriculture, Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1, Autumn 2020, Surry Hills, Australia.

ISSN 1449–2210 (Print)
ISSN 1449–8812 (Web)

$60.50


FPJ1701B - Sevenster, M, Ogilvy, S & Kirkegaard, J (2020), Conservation agriculture in a new world of enterprise-level sustainability metrics

FPJ1701B - Sevenster, M, Ogilvy, S & Kirkegaard, J (2020), Conservation agriculture in a new world of enterprise-level sustainability metrics, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Autumn 2020, pp. 4-13, Surry Hills, Australia.

There is increasing awareness of the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture to address environmental issues whilst feeding growing human populations. To help achieve this, markets increasingly require farmers to apply quantitative frameworks to demonstrate sustainable outcomes to gain market access, financing and social licence. As a result of decades of research and innovation partnerships between Australian scientists and farmers, Australia is well-placed to respond. More than 80% of Australian winter crops are grown using conservation agriculture (CA). As a result, profitability has been maintained while reducing soil disturbance, increasing ground cover and increasing crop diversity. However, recent evidence has challenged claims that present CA practice also increases crop yields and builds up soil carbon. This indicates that practice evolution is required. This paper explores the potential for the two leading sustainability quantification frameworks, life-cycle assessment (LCA) and natural capital accounting (NCA) to assist scientists and farmers to both evolve CA practice and to demonstrate resulting sustainability outcomes. It uses a case study to demonstrate the accounting principles of these frameworks and how these can be combined to create opportunities for entities throughout the agriculture sector to collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes as well as to address community concerns.

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FPJ1701C - White, R & Davidson, B (2020), Is carbon farming an efficient means of offsetting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions?

FPJ1701C - White, R & Davidson, B (2020), Is carbon farming an efficient means of offsetting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Autumn 2020, pp. 16-21, Surry Hills, Australia.

Carbon (C) farming is often promoted as a win-win practice for greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets and improving soil health. This view is implicit in the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) of the current Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). However, claims made at the national level for C sequestration potential in the landscape, and at the farm level for C in soil, cannot be substantiated when compared with scientific evidence of measured rates of C accumulation in Australia and overseas. Nor has the cost-effectiveness of sequestering soil C under the CFI and ERF been analysed at the national or farm level. As it stands, the CFI is a subsidy to farmers and should be recognised as such. Until these questions are resolved, implementation of the policy is economically irresponsible and runs the risk of diverting resources from other sectors where significant reductions in GHG emissions could be achieved.

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FPJ1701D - Dickmann, R (2020), Conservation agriculture and beyond: a view from the plant science industry

FPJ1701D - Dickmann, R (2020), Conservation agriculture and beyond: a view from the plant science industry, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Autumn 2020, pp. 22-31, Surry Hills, Australia.

Conservation agriculture in Australia expanded rapidly from the early 1980s in parallel with the adoption of glyphosate and other herbicides. Poor knowledge of weed dynamics and herbicide use practices led to development of weed resistance. Societal and market pressures weakened research on new herbicide technologies in the years after the millennium. The early 2010s saw the adoption of a zero-tolerance approach to weed escapes, industry wide communication on resistance topics and re-investment in herbicide research. Plant science industry companies have supported industry efforts and undertaken parallel initiatives in their own right. Industry research has focused on better targeted and lower impact herbicides. As the focus of conservation agriculture turns from soil protection to climate adaptation and mitigation, the plant science industries are increasing efforts in boosting biological options and supporting a more regenerative agriculture.

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FPJ1701E - Beckie, HJ, Flower, KC & Ashworth, MB (2020), Glyphosate-free farming in Australia?

FPJ1701E - Beckie, HJ, Flower, KC & Ashworth, MB (2020), Glyphosate-free farming in Australia?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Autumn 2020, pp. 32-42, Surry Hills, Australia.

Glyphosate is the most popular and effective global herbicide. However, there is widespread public interest and concern over its safety because of recent pronouncements and court decisions. Consequently, glyphosate-based products are under intense scrutiny. Some countries or jurisdictions have banned or restricted its use, which will impact the international grain trade should glyphosate residues be detected. The prospect of farming without glyphosate is becoming an important issue facing the Australian agri-food sector. International events that have led to this possible scenario are chronicled, glyphosate usage in agronomic field crops described, and possible alternatives to glyphosate in Australian grain cropping explored. A bioeconomic model is utilised to simulate scenarios of Australian grain cropping without the use of the herbicide. Model predictions suggest that we can farm profitably without glyphosate by consistently utilising key non-herbicidal weed management practices combined with effective pre-emergence soil residual herbicides. However, maintaining low weed seed banks will be challenging.

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FPJ1701F - Walsh, MJ (2020), Meeting the weed control challenge in Australia’s future conservation cropping systems

FPJ1701F - Walsh, MJ (2020), Meeting the weed control challenge in Australia’s future conservation cropping systems, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, Autumn 2020, pp. 44-52, Surry Hills, Australia.

The adoption of conservation cropping has improved the sustainability as well as productivity of Australian crop production systems by increased soil moisture conservation and better soil health. Herbicide reliance in these production systems has, unfortunately, led to the widespread evolution of herbicide resistant weed populations that now occur in high frequencies throughout all cropping regions. Despite this, the need for conserving crop residues will be increasingly critical as changing rainfall patterns place further reliance on soil moisture storage and for effective winter crop production. This weed control challenge will be met by the use of current technological advances enabling in-crop site specific weed control. This approach allows the use of a range of alternative physical weed control technologies to target weeds in cropping systems. As well as more sustainable weed control the site-specific approach of targeting weeds instead of the entire field enables substantial reductions in weed control costs.   


 


 


 

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