APT00001 - Economics of closing the yield gap in the Northern Grains Region
The gap between average farm yields and attainable yields achieved by improved practices and good management is generally estimated at between 30 and 60%. Average grain yields in the northern grains region, commonly around 2 t/ha for wheat and 2.7 t/ha for sorghum, have the potential in most districts to improve by more than 1 t/ha. This could boost farming tremendously. A yield gain of only 15 to 20% is needed in most cases to double farm profitability.
This project aims to improve crop yields and farm profitability and enhance Australian grain outputs by providing farmers with tools to understand and reduce the yield gap between what is being achieved and what is possible. The starting point is to provide farmers in the northern grains region with targets for attainable yields. These will be developed for three agro-ecological zones, for soils with different plant-available water capacities and for wet, dry and average rainfall years. Target yields will be determined using the APSIM model and by the collation and assessment of research and farm performance data. A third measure to help growers make decisions to improve yield will be benchmarks for water productivity, otherwise known as water use efficiency, for different soils and scenarios for each part of the Northern Region.
Economic benefits are an important motivator for change and the project will examine the economics of various issues which are the cause of the yield gap, as well as practices such as crop rotation, fertiliser management and deep sowing which can improve yield potential. Resilient farming systems and those systems and strategies which make the most of above-average rainfall will be considered.
Grain growers will be able to look at the effect of practices on whole-farm profitability with the key profit drivers quantified for each region. This aspect of the study will consider the interactions of inputs and agronomic decisions such as fertiliser use with other factors such as capital expenditure, labour and management skills. Workshops will involve growers and advisers in discussion of yield targets and ways of closing the yield gaps, along with the economics of improvements and putting it all together to make the farm and region more profitable and productive.
Project leaders from Agripath Pty Ltd - Peter Wylie from Dalby and Simon Fritsch from Tamworth - have an extensive background in farm economics and helping growers to benchmark and improve farm profitability.
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