Key farm practices identified as research priorities

Author: | Date: 06 May 2011

Key farm practices identified as research priorities

Results from a national survey of grain growers based on their adoption of 11 key management practices is guiding investment in mixed farming practices research.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Farm Practice Baseline Report, detailing results from the survey, has provided a platform for shaping current and future research to improve farm productivity and sustainability.

GRDC Manager of Validation and Integration, Stuart Kearns, says that of the $117 million of grain grower levies and Australian Government funds invested each year in research, development and extension, around $49 million is directed by GRDC to farming practices research.

“This research is aimed at providing grain growers with better choices and information to enhance their farming systems and long-term viability, so it’s important that we target investment into research that is going to have real impact and make a difference on-farm,” said Mr Kearns, who is a co-author of the report.

The GRDC, in partnership with the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program, worked with Solutions Marketing and Umbers Rural Services to conduct a national survey of growers to capture and present information about the farming practices currently in use on grain and mixed farms across Australia.

The information is now providing an important means for monitoring and evaluating the success of RD&E investments.

“It gives GRDC a clear picture of the levels of adoption around Australia, enabling us to identify successes and gaps, and to assist in directing future investments or modifying existing projects,” Mr Kearns said.

The GRDC and associated agencies in the grains industry have identified 11 key management practices, considered important in driving productivity, profitability, sustainability and environmental improvements on grain and mixed farms. They are:

• Matching land use to land capability
• Reduced or no-tillage
• Stubble retention
• Crop rotation with pastures, oilseeds and pulses
• Controlled traffic/precision agriculture
• Integrated weed/pest/disease management in crops and pastures
• Nutrient budgeting and soil testing in crops and pastures
• Use of perennials in systems
• Stocking rate/intensity
• Managing biodiversity
• Water budgeting

Mr Kearns said encouraging increased levels of adoption of these 11 practices remained an objective of GRDC’s RD&E investments.

“These farm practices are the ones that grain growers and mixed farmers should be focusing on, to enable them to adapt better to variable seasonal, market and external conditions.

“GRDC investment in top priority farm practices research is aimed at providing growers with the tools, resources and options to meet and overcome such challenges.”

The GRDC’s Farm Practice Baseline Report can be accessed via


• For more information contact Stuart Kearns at the GRDC on 02 6166 4500

• GRDC Project Code: URS00002

• This media release and other media products are available via

GRDC Project Code URS00002