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Finlayson J.,University of Western Australia | Bathgate A.,Farming Systems Analysis Service | Nordblom T.,Charles Sturt University | Theiveyanathan T.,Ensis | And 4 more authors.
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2010

It has been widely suggested that changing land use from annual to perennial crops reduces land and stream degradation due to salinisation. However, annual crops are financially attractive and increases in perennials can reduce stream flows with adverse effects on stream values. As such, salinity control is likely to involve tradeoffs between public and private costs and benefits. This study quantifies the expected on-farm economic and catchment-level water yield and salinity effects of altering land use among trees, perennial pastures and cereals. The structure of a two stage linear-programming (LP) process is described. The first stage is the MIDAS farm-level model of mixed cropping and sheep enterprises which provides inputs to a second stage catchment-level LP. It was concluded that perennial pastures can be used in conjunction with trees as a stream salinity-management tool in low to intermediate rainfall areas in New South Wales. The results indicate that land-use decisions should be informed by site-specific information if adverse effects on streams are to be avoided. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Byrne F.,University of Western Australia | Robertson M.J.,University of Western Australia | Robertson M.J.,CSIRO | Bathgate A.,Farming Systems Analysis Service | Hoque Z.,University of Western Australia
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2010

Evaluating the potential scale of adoption of a technological innovation or management practice at the farm business scale can help gauge the potential size of an industry for the purposes of prioritising resources for research and development. In this paper we address the question of quantifying the potential area of adoption of a perennial pasture, lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), in dryland mixed farming systems in Australia. Lucerne pastures play a significant role in dryland farming systems in the wheat-sheep zone of southern and western Australia. While there are benefits of integrating lucerne into cropping systems there will inevitably be additional costs, and the scale of adoption of lucerne will depend largely on the increase in farm profit resulting from the introduction of lucerne. Whole-farm economic models of representative farms in the Australian wheat-sheep belt were used to determine the key drivers for the scale of adoption of lucerne.For a particular farming system the optimal area of lucerne which maximises whole-farm profit is found to depend on production, price and cost conditions. Generally, no more than 30% of a farm was allocated to lucerne according to those conditions and location of the farm. For most scenarios examined the response of profit was flat around the optimal area. This implies that lucerne could be grown on areas greater than the optimum, in order to reduce groundwater recharge (and thereby reduce the risk of dryland salinity), without greatly reducing whole-farm profit. The optimal area of lucerne in all regions was limited by the area of suitable soil types and proportion of lucerne in the most profitable lucerne-crop sequences.At all price levels assumed in this study lucerne remained as part of the optimal enterprise mix for all farm types examined. Lucerne productivity was also a major determinant of the optimal area of lucerne. The sensitivity of profit to changes in winter and/or summer production varied between regions and for different livestock enterprises. The differences were driven by the timing of energy demands and supply of feed in individual farming systems.In all regions the optimal area and profitability of lucerne varied with livestock enterprise. The analyses showed that changing from wool production to meat production enabled greater economic benefit to be realised from lucerne. This was consistent across farm types and demonstrated the value of lucerne as a source of high quality feed for finishing prime lambs in summer.The results of this study demonstrate that lucerne is profitable in a range of environments on a significant proportion of the farm area, but that this area is small relative to that required to significantly influence in its own right the environmental issue of salinity. © 2010. Source

Young J.M.,Farming Systems Analysis Service | Thompson A.N.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Thompson A.N.,Murdoch University | Curnow M.,44 Albany Highway | Oldham C.M.,44 Albany Highway
Animal Production Science | Year: 2011

Profitability of sheep production systems in southern Australia is optimised at a stocking rate that provides adequate nutrition for breeding ewes and enables efficient utilisation of grown pasture and supplements. In this paper we used bio-economic modelling to develop optimum liveweight1 profiles for spring-lambing Merino ewes in different environments. The modelling included the impacts of the ewe liveweight profile on the production of the ewe and the survival and lifetime wool production of her progeny. Fifteen ewe liveweight profiles were analysed for each region to determine the profitability of varying ewe liveweight at joining, varying rate of loss of liveweight after joining and the rate of gain in liveweight from the minimum to lambing. The analyses support the hypotheses that whole-farm profitability is sensitive to the liveweight profile of Merino ewe flocks and that there is a liveweight profile that maximises whole-farm profit. The variation between the most and least profitable ewe liveweight profile was $690002 per farm ($14.30/ewe) for south-west Victoria, $51000 per farm ($8.70/ewe) for Great Southern Western Australia and $33300 per farm ($9.70/ewe) for southern New South Wales. The changes in profit were due to differences in costs of feeding to achieve the ewe liveweight profile and its influence on the production of both the ewes and their progeny. Failure to include the impacts of liveweight profile on progeny survival and lifetime wool production incorrectly identifies the optimum ewe liveweight profile and provided inaccurate estimates of profitability. The optimum liveweight profiles for ewes lambing in spring were similar for all three regions and insensitive to changing commodity prices, pasture productivity and management. The optimum profile was to join ewes at ∼90% of the standard reference weight of the genotype, lose a small amount of weight after joining and regain weight in late pregnancy to return to the joining weight by lambing. Regaining the liveweight lost in early pregnancy by lambing is the most important target to achieve. The cost per farm of missing this liveweight target by 1 kg was $13000 ($2.60/ewe) for south-west Victoria, $8900 ($1.45/ewe) for Great Southern Western Australia and $5500 ($1.65/ewe) for southern New South Wales. By contrast, the cost per farm of missing the joining target by 1 kg was $5500 for south-west Victoria and less than $2000 across the other two regions. Whole-farm profit increased with increasing stocking rate up to an optimum and regardless of stocking rate there is an additional opportunity to increase whole-farm profit by up to 15% by managing ewes to achieve the optimum liveweight profile. This indicates that the optimum liveweight profile should be achieved by increasing the level of grain feeding and altering the timing of utilising the farm feed resources rather than manipulating stocking rate. © CSIRO 2011. Source

Curnow M.,44 Albany Highway | Oldham C.M.,44 Albany Highway | Behrendt R.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Gordon D.J.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | And 6 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2011

Low rates of adoption of innovations in sheep management have been blamed on the poor targeting of messages, low relative advantage of the innovation, a focus on awareness-raising activities rather than adoption activities, poor 'packaging' of information and few effective tools to aid decision making. Lifetimewool, a national project that developed management guidelines for Merino ewes specific to regions and different times of lambing, used a 'review and improve' process to identify areas of interest, level of knowledge and the skills required by different sectors of the audience to adopt the new recommendations for ewe management. To match these needs and to effectively communicate information from Lifetimewool, a combination of simple and complex tools were produced which were practical, effective, regionally specific and credible. All of the products were designed as a 'family' in terms of design and content, allowing a recognition by the producer that they complemented each other and led producers through logical steps for making decisions on managing and feeding ewes. The average awareness of all tools by consultants and extensionists was almost 90% and average usage rates were above 50%. However, the usage rates varied dramatically between tools and users, for example, 46% of consultants used the feed budget tables compared with 76% of extensionists for a similar awareness. Of 1353 producers surveyed more than 55% were aware of the Lifetimewool tools and average usage within this group was 19% and related to the length of time the tool had been available. An estimated 14000 producers were aware of tools produced by Lifetimewool. The uptake and use of these tools by the target audiences support our hypothesis that tools of differing complexities are required to cater for individual needs. © CSIRO 2011. Source

Kingwell R.,University of Western Australia | Kingwell R.,Australian Export Grains Innovation Center | Bathgate A.,Farming Systems Analysis Service | Thomson A.,Murdoch University
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems | Year: 2016

Concerns about the environmental and economic impacts of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, including those from agriculture, have caused many nations to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Various methodologies are used to measure and report emissions. We outline the range of metrics and discuss the rationale and limitations of their use in greenhouse gas emission reporting, especially for livestock production. We highlight how farm management is affected by the measurement metrics that are applied. On balance more complex reporting measures are more likely to usefully serve farmers, extension agents, and agricultural researchers to achieve beneficial environmental outcomes at least cost to farm businesses and governments. © 2016 Taylor & Francis. Source

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