Push for research into farming system

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A proposed new Cooperative Research Centre - the Future Farm Industries CRC (FFI CRC) - is being considered to direct research into a new farming system that will better fit livestock and cropping industries into the Australian landscape. The proposed new research enterprise will seek to integrate perennial crops, including natives, into broadacre farming systems to improve profitability, tackle issues such as salinity and generate new regional industries.

"There is debate on how big the salinity problem is," says FFI CRC acting chair Andrew Inglis. "We say it is still a very important threat to Australia"s water resources, biodiversity, towns and buildings. However, dealing with the threat now sows the seeds of great opportunity for the future.

"The Future Farm Industries venture is about creating opportunities. It is a scientific and business solution designed to make millions of hectares of land more productive, restore water quality and biodiversity, enhance mainstream industries and build new ones."

Possible products of such changes to farming practices may be found in industries such as bio-energy, timber products, charcoal for mineral processing and seed and technology exports.

The FFI CRC is supported by the GRDC, Australian Wool Innovation, Meat and Livestock Australia, Landmark, state government departments, CSIRO and four universities. In a new development for a research entity, it will also admit individual farmers, farm advisers, regional and catchment authorities and farm groups as members.

If the proposed CRC wins Australian Government approval, its backers believe it could deliver more than $1 billion in returns to the nation over seven years.

The venture will use Profitable Perennials™ technology to intensify production in existing grazing and cropping industries and provide a foundation for new farm production systems.

Its planned outcomes include:

"In answer to those who may be wondering if we can do it, the foundation for these new farming systems has already been laid by the CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity," Mr Inglis says. "This CRC has established a clear track record for developing improved perennial pasture types, innovative farming systems that yield higher returns and reduced environmental impact.

"Furthermore, it has identified many perennials new to agriculture that can form the basis of new industries and farm production systems. The new FFI CRC aims to turn those opportunities into real industries, jobs and a sustainable landscape."

More information: Andrew Inglis, 0418 848 260;
Kevin Goss, CRC Salinity, 08 6488 2555, 0418 274 361, kgoss@fnas.uwa.edu.au; www.crcsalinity.com