The NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, which includes NSW Agriculture, and the University of New England want to integrate farm, resource and environmental research for overall landscape improvement.
The goal is to keep farmers sustainable while they're involved in community-driven moves to reverse resource and environmental degradation in northern NSW. The project bears resemblance to Victoria's Joint Centre for Crop Improvement in Horsham, where the
University of Melbourne's Department of Agriculture and Resource Management, the University's Longerong College and Agriculture Victoria work collaboratively.
NSW Agriculture's Bob Martin says increasing community concern about environmental and resource issues like dryland salinity and the state of the Murray-Darling Basin reinforce the need for such linked research in northern NSW.
Dr Martin says soil erosion, physical and chemical decline in once naturally fertile and arable soils, and dryland salinity all threaten the sustainability of the $600 million a year grains industry in northern NSW.
One ultimate aim of the research is to improve the skills base of farmers in northern NSW, helping them maintain profitable and sustainable businesses in a more resource- and environmentally-conscious world.
For now, the coordinated research between the three organisations will be "low-key and virtual", with no independent management or office requirements and communication between agencies and individuals to be by email.
Program 3.4.2 Contact: Dr Bob Martin 02 6763 1100