Farming Smarter, Not Harder

Laura Eadie and Christopher Stone - Centre for Policy Development

Type: Report
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

The future of farming is serious business for all Australians.  It is hoped that this report stimulates public discussion and essential policy debates on how to make that future a vibrant one.

This report was produced for the Centre for Policy Development in 2012 for the Sustainable Economy Program.  The program aims to identify options for Australia to flourish while bringing our economy within environmental limits.

Farming Smarter, Not Harder is the second in a series of reports looking at how different sectors of
Australia’s economy can benefit from policies to preserve the environment and resources that sustain them.

Australia is ranked in the top 5 exporters of commodities like wheat, beef, dairy, mutton and lamb. Farm products account for over 10 per cent of our exports, worth $35.9 billion. By 2050, rising global food demand and higher prices may present big opportunities for countries who are net exporters of food.

This report finds that Australian agriculture can build a lasting competitive advantage through innovation that

  • raises agricultural productivity,
  • minimises dependence on fuel and fertilizer use,
  • and preserves the environment and resources it draws on.

Leading Australian farmers are already taking action to improve soil condition, with tangible benefits. Government policies need to support all agricultural industries to develop and implement innovative sustainable farming practices and business models.

They key points include:

  • Rising global demand and prices present challenges and opportunities
  • Australia has greater opportunities, but similar challenges to the rest of the world
  • Farming smarter, not harder, can sustainably increase production
  • It pays to invest in natural capital
  • Farmers’ stewardship of the land is essential, and deserves support

In conclusion, many farmers are already using practices that raise input-efficiency and productivity, by
improving soil condition. Soil in good condition can allow farmers take advantage of more favourable seasons in a variable climate. This can ensure more reliable production levels and financial returns over time.

Investment in research and development is essential to fit existing smarter farming practices to local needs, and to find even more efficient and productive ways of farming.


2012 - Australia - Laura Eadie and Christopher Stone - Centre for Policy Development
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