FARM POLICY JOURNAL

Autumn 2020, Vol. 17, No. 1

Evolving conservation agriculture

Conservation agriculture is the dominant cropping system in Australia, yet many conservation agriculture practices are under threat. Accelerated evolution of farming systems is necessary to ensure that Australian farmers can continue to farm in a profitable, productive and sustainable fashion. This edition explores some of the drivers for change to current systems and forecasts what future systems may look like.

Environmental, societal and practical challenges to current practice are driving a clear need for change. The scientific community is actively engaged in this discussion and is working to provide Australian farmers with new facts and practices to ensure that Australian agriculture continues to thrive.

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Conservation agriculture in a new world of enterprise-level sustainability metrics

Maartje Sevenster, Sue Ogilvy and John Kirkegaard

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. Buy now


Is carbon farming an efficient means of offsetting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions?

Robert White and Brian Davidson

Carbon (C) farming is often promoted as a win-win practice for greenhouse gas offsets and improving soil health. This view is implicit in the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative of the current Emissions Reduction Fund. 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. Buy now


Conservation agriculture and beyond: a view from the plant science industry

Richard Dickmann

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. Buy now


Glyphosate-free farming in Australia?

Hugh J Beckie, Ken C Flower and Michael B Ashworth

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. Buy now


Meeting the weed control challenge in Australia’s future conservation cropping systems

Michael J Walsh

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. Buy now


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