Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center

Crawley, Australia

Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center

Crawley, Australia
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Hayes R.C.,Charles Sturt University | Hayes R.C.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Scott B.J.,Charles Sturt University | Dear B.S.,Charles Sturt University | And 5 more authors.
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2011

This study tested the hypothesis that lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) populations selected in solution culture high in aluminium (Al) would increase seedling root growth when grown in an acid soil high in exchangeable Al. Root growth of six elite populations (Aurora C2, UQL-1C2, T02-011C1, T02-011C2, A513C3 and Sardi 7C2) selected in high-Al solution culture (SHASC) was compared with that of corresponding parent as well as the Georgia acid soil-tolerant populations in an acid soil in pots grown for 8 days under controlled environmental conditions. Lime was added to the soil to provide contrasts in the severity of stress imposed by low pH and high Al. Averaged across six SHASC populations, total root length increased 19% at pH 4.34 in CaCl2 (35% exchangeable Al) and 26% at pH 5.26 (<1% exchangeable Al) compared with the control populations. At all pH levels SHASC populations showed increased tap root length, total root length (includes lateral roots), root weight and root surface area, but decreased average root diameter compared with the six control populations. A large amount of variability was observed both between and within lucerne populations with three SHASC populations (Aurora C2, UQL-1C2 and Sardi 7C2) exhibiting increased root growth at lower pH levels, but little increase in root length at higher pH, consistent with increased tolerance to Al toxicity. This was in contrast to three other SHASC populations (T02-011C1, T02-011C2 and A513C3), which exhibited increased root length at all pH levels, consistent with increased seedling vigour. The Sardi 7C2 population exhibited the greatest increase in tap root growth with tap root length increasing by 40 and 30% at pH 4.34 and 4.48, respectively, compared with its parent population Sardi 7. This study provides evidence that seedlings of lucerne populations selected in high-Al solution culture can confer significantly improved root and shoot growth in acid soil. It is recommended that such screening be incorporated into lucerne breeding programs to reduce costs in space and time. © 2011 CSIRO.

Monjardino M.,SMC Systems Modelling Consulting | Revell D.,CSIRO | Revell D.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Pannell D.J.,University of Western Australia | Pannell D.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2010

In face of climate change and other environmental challenges, one strategy for incremental improvement within existing farming systems is the inclusion of perennial forage shrubs. In Australian agricultural systems, this has the potential to deliver multiple benefits: increased whole-farm profitability and improved natural resource management. The profitability of shrubs was investigated using Model of an Integrated Dryland Agricultural System (MIDAS), a bio-economic model of a mixed crop/livestock farming system. The modelling indicated that including forage shrubs had the potential to increase farm profitability by an average of 24% for an optimal 10% of farm area used for shrubs under standard assumptions. The impact of shrubs on whole-farm profit accrues primarily through the provision of a predictable supply of 'out-of-season' feed, thereby reducing supplementary feed costs, and through deferment of use of other feed sources on the farm, allowing a higher stocking rate and improved animal production. The benefits for natural resource management and the environment include improved water use through summer-active, deep-rooted plants, and carbon storage. Forage shrubs also allow for the productive use of marginal soils. Finally, we discuss other, less obvious, benefits of shrubs such as potential benefits on livestock health. The principles revealed by the MIDAS modelling have wide application beyond the region, although these need to be adapted on farm and widely disseminated before potential contribution to Australian agriculture can be realized. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Pannell D.J.,University of Western Australia | Pannell D.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Roberts A.M.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Roberts A.M.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Economics | Year: 2013

A multidisciplinary team of researchers made efforts to influence the design and implementation of environmental policy in Australia. A focus of these efforts was the development of the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER). In addition, the team undertook a range of communication activities, training, user support, and participation in committees and enquiries. Transaction costs were relevant to these efforts in a variety of ways. Environmental managers perceived INFFER to involve relatively high transaction costs. A balance was struck between the system having simplicity (and low transaction costs) and delivering environmental benefits. Transaction costs were factored into the planning and prioritisation processes developed. For example, public and private transaction costs are accounted for in the calculation of benefit:cost ratios and in the choice of policy mechanisms. There are diverse roles that transaction costs play in the processes of developing, implementing and influencing environmental policy programmes. A key observation is that appropriate strategic investment in transaction costs can improve decisions and increase net benefits from an environmental programme. A well-designed decision process can involve incurring transaction costs at one stage in order to save transaction costs at a later stage. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..

Pannell D.J.,University of Western Australia | Pannell D.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Roberts A.M.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Roberts A.M.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | And 4 more authors.
Land Use Policy | Year: 2012

A framework for comprehensive integrated assessment of environmental projects is developed and applied in partnership with a regional environmental body. The framework combines theory with practice, bringing a pragmatic and efficient approach to the rigorous assessment of projects for a large number of environmental assets in the north central region of the state of Victoria, Australia. The approach is codified as the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER). The analysis assisted the environmental body to make strong business cases for a number of environmental projects, resulting in funding for those projects. Key features of the study include extensive participation of decision makers and stakeholders, integration of a comprehensive set of information about projects, explicit assessment of uncertainties and information gaps, and analysis of the most appropriate policy mechanism for each project. The process of applying the framework involved four steps: identification of around 300 important environmental assets in the region, filtering the list of assets to remove those that are less likely to provide opportunities for cost-effective public investment, development and detailed assessment of projects for a subset of assets, and negotiation of funding for projects. Implications for land-use policy include that environmental projects vary widely in their cost-effectiveness, requiring careful targeting of funds if environmental benefits are to be maximised. Many existing environmental programs use simplistic analyses to support decision making, resulting in missed opportunities for substantially greater environmental benefits. Promoting adoption of improved analytical methods is very challenging, requiring changes in mind-set and culture in environmental organisations. Widespread adoption is unlikely unless funders create incentives by rewarding those project proponents who undertake rigorous and comprehensive project assessments that focus on achievement of environmental outcomes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Pannell D.J.,University of Western States | Pannell D.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Roberts A.M.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Roberts A.M.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Wildlife Research | Year: 2013

Context A framework was developed to help investors improve the delivery of environmental benefits from environmental programs. The framework, Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER), assists environmental managers to design projects, select delivery mechanisms and rank competing projects on the basis of benefits and costs. Aims To identify design requirements for an environmental investment framework on the basis of consideration of lessons from practical experience, and established theory from decision analysis and economics. Methods The design and delivery of the framework are based on extensive experience from working with environmental managers and policy makers. In addition, the developers have paid close attention to the need for processes that are theoretically rigorous, resulting in a tool that allows valid comparison of projects for different asset types, of different scales and durations. Key results From the practical experience outlined, several important lessons and implications are identified, including the need for simplicity, training and support of users, trusting relationships with users, transparency, flexibility, compatibility with the needs and contexts of users, and supportive institutional arrangements. Use of a theoretically correct metric to rank projects can deliver dramatically improved environmental values relative to a commonly used weighted additive metric. Conclusions Practical and theoretical considerations have strong implications for the design of a practical, effective and accurate tool to support decision making about environmental project priorities. © 2013 CSIRO.

Alexander J.K.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Roberts A.M.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Roberts A.M.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Pannell D.J.,University of Western Australia | Pannell D.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center
Australasian Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2010

Given the limited budgets of environmental programs in Australia, spatially explicit, assetbased approaches to investment planning are likely to result in more cost-effective environmental outcomes than less-targeted approaches. The conclusion of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) provided opportunity to explore the compatibility of Victorian Catchment Management Authority (CMA) dryland plans with an asset-based approach, with a view to providing guidance on how to improve practices for new programs. In 2008, we reviewed plans for dryland areas of eight Victorian CMAs against the following criteria: 1) identification of spatially explicit assets; 2) asset prioritisation; 3) level of threat considered; 4) capacity to influence the threat; 5) linkage between intervention and asset protection; 6) consideration of landholder adoption circumstances; 7) whether the intervention was based on analysis of public and private benefits; and 8) whether research and development gaps were identified. Gaps in knowledge were identified in all plans. Overall, two regions had plans that were moderately consistent with a spatially explicit, asset-based approach. There was a generally positive response from CMAs regarding the implementation of such an approach, with strong indications of the need to consider multiple environmental threats. We conclude that clear guidance or recommendations from governments will be needed to achieve widespread adoption of spatially explicit, assetbased approaches in Victoria and other states.

Llewellyn R.S.,CSIRO | Llewellyn R.S.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Robertson M.J.,CSIRO | Robertson M.J.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | And 7 more authors.
Crop and Pasture Science | Year: 2014

Developing new and improved grazing systems for crop-livestock farms where crop production is the major driver of farm management decisions presents a unique research and development challenge. In southern Australia, a substantial proportion of animal production from grazing comes from regions and farms where cropping is the major enterprise. In this paper, we describe a multi-disciplinary farming-systems research approach (EverCrop) aimed at improving farm profitability, risk management and environmental impacts through the development and integration of new grazing options with an emphasis on perennial species. It has been used to analyse and target new opportunities for farmers to benefit from perennial species across dry Mediterranean-type and temperate regions of southern Australia. It integrates field experimentation, on-farm trialling, farmer participatory research, soil-plant-climate biophysical modelling, whole-farm bioeconomic analysis and evaluations of adoptability. Multi-functional roles for summer-active grasses with winter cropping, integration of forage shrubs and establishment of new mixes of perennial grasses in crop rotations to improve farming system performance are identified, along with an analysis of factors likely to affect rate of uptake by farmers. © CSIRO 2014.

Drake P.L.,Bentley Delivery Center | Drake P.L.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Drake P.L.,University of Western Australia | McCormick C.A.,Bentley Delivery Center | Smith M.J.,Bentley Delivery Center
Geoderma | Year: 2014

The total efflux of CO2 derived from metabolic processes in soil (Rsoil) exerts a large control on the terrestrial carbon balance. In landscapes that have been radically transformed by humans, the natural carbon balance may be altered by shifts in Rsoil. After accounting for temperature, we sought to determine the main factors that govern Rsoil at Toolibin Lake, an ephemeral wetland threatened by salinization as a result of land clearing. We found strong statistical support for a positive effect of soil gravimetric water content (θ) on Rsoil and weaker support for a negative effect of salinity (measured as the electrical conductivity of a soil extract (ECe)) on Rsoil. We also detected weak support for a positive interaction between θ and ECe, such that θ had a greater positive effect on Rsoil at elevated soil salinities. These results confirm not only that soil moisture is an important driver of Rsoil under native conditions, but also that elevated soil salinities have the potential to accentuate the link between Rsoil and moisture content. © 2014.

Nordblom T.L.,Pine Gully Road | Nordblom T.L.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Christy B.P.,Primary Industries Research Victoria | Christy B.P.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | And 6 more authors.
Agricultural Water Management | Year: 2010

This study reports an analysis of the economics of options for strategic land-use change to attain future catchment level target combinations of salt load and water yield. Farm level survey information on land use, productivity, prices and costs of production were integrated with spatially specific soil, rainfall, topography, hydrology and salinity results of the simulation model CAT (Catchment Analysis Tool). This information was used to populate a two stage economic optimization model in which subcatchment economic results were combined for catchment level analyses. This study is the first to exploit CAT results in an economic framework and the first in which economic results are mapped using CAT. The 64,000 ha Bet Bet Catchment in Victoria, Australia, once deemed among the highest priority areas in the Murray Darling Basin for dryland salinity reduction, is the focus of this study. The calculated current net present value (NPV) of agricultural production in the catchment is AU$ 78 million 33AU$ 1 = US$ 0.9 December 2009. while providing 42 GL of water yield 441 GL = 1 gigalitre = 10 6 m 3 = 10 9 L. annually for use downstream with a salt load of 22,600 t. Results show that salt loads may be reduced to 18,600 t (reduction of 4000 t) through expansion of tree plantations and lucerne production, reducing water yield to 31 GL (11 GL reduction) and NPV to AU$ 63 million (AU$ 15 million reduction). Water yields could be increased from current levels by 2 GL while maintaining current salt loads. Alternatively, catchment NPV could be increased by approximately AU$ 7 million with little or no reduction in water yield; but there may be reasons (small farm size) why this is unlikely. For this catchment, the maximum reduction in salt load appears insufficient to justify public investment in tree planting and perennial pasture establishment, particularly when the reduced NPV and reduced water yields are taken into account. The results for this catchment do not support regulation of land use for the sake of lowering river salinity. However, the capacity of tree plantations to reduce water yields may support a regulation requiring purchase of water entitlements from downstream entitlement holders for new plantations. Despite millions of dollars of past public investment, it is now clear that Bet Bet Catchment was never one where land-use changes could benefit downstream water users. The approach described in this paper enables catchment management authorities to weigh costs of land-use change against downstream benefits and natural resource management (NRM) options elsewhere. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Mayberry D.,CSIRO | Mayberry D.,University of Western Australia | Mayberry D.,Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Center | Masters D.,CSIRO | And 3 more authors.
Small Ruminant Research | Year: 2010

Old man saltbush (Atriplex nummularia) is sown in saline farming systems worldwide, and is commonly utilised as fodder for livestock. Saltbush contains very high concentrations of NaCl and KCl, however, the complex interactions between minerals means that sheep grazing saltbush may be susceptible to mineral deficiencies. The aim of this experiment was to assess the effect of high NaCl and KCl intakes on the apparent absorption of some macro-minerals (Mg, Ca, P) by sheep fed formulated high-salt diets or old man saltbush to help identify likely mineral deficiencies. Two experiments were conducted. In both experiments 18-month-old Merino wethers were offered one of 4 diets at maintenance: a control pellet (no added salt), control pellet + 10% salt (low salt), control pellet + 20% salt (high salt), or old man saltbush containing approximately 20% salt. The salt added to all diets was 2NaCl:1KCl. Sheep were fed the diets for a minimum of 3 weeks before any measurements were taken. In the first experiment we measured the accumulation of Na and K in the rumen of cannulated sheep for 24 h following feeding. In the second experiment we measured the apparent digestion and absorption of Na, K, Cl, Mg, Ca and P over 6 days. There was a net loss of Mg (0.83 g/day), Ca (0.61 g/day) and P (0.46 g/day) from sheep fed the saltbush diet, but the addition of salt to the control pellet and high levels of Na and K in the rumen had no effect on the apparent digestion and absorption of Mg, Ca and P. The loss of Mg, Ca and P from the gastrointestinal tract of sheep fed saltbush is likely to be due to a combination of reduced availability and absorption of minerals from the saltbush leaves. Deficiencies in Mg, Ca and P can reduce animal production and even cause stock deaths. These results indicate that saltbush as a sole source of feed may be unsuitable for sheep with high nutritional demands, and further research is required to fully assess the mineral balance of sheep grazing saltbush pastures. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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