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Survey: sustainable practices commonplace on Australian farms

03 November 2021
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

The majority of farmers surveyed in an ABARES study are using sustainable land management practices to improve the natural resource base and drought resilience.

ABARES’s acting Executive Director Jared Greenville said the findings of the Natural Resource Management and Drought Resilience – survey of farm practices demonstrates the agriculture sector’s commitment to sustainable land management.

“The findings show just how much sustainable land management has become the bread-and-butter of most farming enterprises,” Dr Greenville said.

“For example, 84 per cent of farmers retain stubble, and nearly 70 per cent are reducing reliance on pesticides and optimising fertiliser use.

“Over the last five years, a significant number of farms we surveyed had taken part in the National Landcare Program, and over half had taken up new land management practices as a result.

“Lots of farmers are employing drought resilience strategies as well: destocking early in low rainfall periods (68 per cent of farms), improving water retention (64 per cent of farms), and investing in on-farm grain and fodder storage (58 per cent of farms).

“Just as importantly, over half of farms (58 per cent) had a source of off-farm income and 37 per cent of farms had diversified their agricultural enterprises over the last three years to increase their resilience to drought.

“Farming in Australia can be tough, and it’s heartening to see our farmers employing best practice in both land and business management.”

The survey was funded by the National Landcare Program and the Future Drought Fund. Data from the survey will support monitoring long-term drought resilience and the effectiveness of government natural resource management programs.

ABARES’s Natural Resource Management and Drought Resilience – survey of farm practices can be read at www.awe.gov.au/abares/research-topics/surveys/nrm-drought-resilience.

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