Conservation agriculture: change is coming

Published 29 Nov 2020 | Richard Heath


Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of travelling around NSW, and connecting with others further away via Zoom, to speak to farmers, researchers and other agri-industry people about the future of conservation agriculture in Australia. These conversations have been in preparation for our Conservation Agriculture 2030 online conference being held from the 7th – 11th December.

One consistent theme that has emerged through all the discussions has been a sense of urgency around the need for an acceleration in the pace, scale and type of change required for conservation agriculture systems.

Farming practice is constantly evolving; however, it is often only in looking backwards that the scale of change is realised. The significance of incremental improvements made in the constant search for increased productivity and profitability is sometimes not realised until a comparison of systems today compared to ten or twenty years ago is made. While conservation agriculture systems today might look quite different than they did in the past, for most people it has been the result of lots of small improvements over time than one giant change.

However, the people I spoke to for this conference all question whether this sort of incremental improvement is going to be enough to respond to the imminent changes that they foresee. Climatic, agronomic, financial, community, and regulatory pressures were all put forward as factors outing pressure on current conservation agriculture systems. Step changes will be needed to mitigate those threats.

Tune in to the Conservation Agriculture 2030 Online Conference to hear about the sorts of step changes that are needed and the drivers behind those changes – and also, while there is no room for complacency about the effort required, to hear a sense of optimism about the likelihood that the required changes can be made.

The conference, presented by the Australian Farm Institute in partnership with the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and supported by Nutrien Ag Solutions, will feature a series of pre-recorded conversations I’ve been having with farmers, researchers and industry people from all over Australia about the future of conservation agriculture. Each session will also have plenty of time for live Q&A with the speakers. All sessions will also be available for download for registrants, so if you are still on the header you can catch up over the summer!

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