Regenerative Agriculture Long-Term Research Study

Vanguard Business Services - Ogilvy, S., Gardner, M., Mallawaarachichi, T., Schirmer, J., Brown, K., Heagney, E.

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

This long-term Australian regenerative study found the regenerative producers to be higher in terms of financial performance, wellbeing and biodiversity.

Report: Graziers with better profitability, biodiversity and wellbeing.

Exploring the potential for improving environmental, social and economic outcomes in agriculture

What was the problem?

Regenerative graziers have claimed higher/more dependable profit farming systems and that their approaches have helped to conserve ecological functions of box gum grassy woodlands.

This research aimed to understand these claims of improved economic performance and biodiversity outcomes.

What did the research involve?

This was an independent piece of research that focused on grazing properties in box gum grassy woodlands regions.

Fifteen regenerative graziers were examined from three regions:

  • Armidale – Uralla (North)
  • Wellington – Gulgong (Central)
  • Holbrook – Young (South).

Research was undertaken in three phases:

  1. On-farm financial data and farmer well being survey data compared to benchmarks
  2. Independent assessment of characteristics of grassy woodland and native pastures
  3. Economic comparative analysis of regenerative versus conventional farming system outcomes.

What were the key findings?

Key findings as outlined in Vanguard Business Services summary included:

  • Average profit levels from the regenerative graziers was comparable with the Holmes-Sackett elite producers.
  • Average profit levels of the regenerative graziers were consistently higher than the average ABARES farm survey participants and showed less variability over the study period.
  • Average profits of regenerative graziers were consistently better in years where there was low rainfall.
  • The regenerative managed farms had substantially lower cost structures, in key areas such as supplementary feed costs/DSE, pasture costs/DSE and animal health and breeding costs/DSE.

VBS also outlined the wellbeing results, which were assessed against the Regional Wellbeing Survey (7,000 farmers) VBS stated that regenerative graziers reported:

  • Significantly higher levels of wellbeing compared to similar farmers in the Regional Wellbeing Survey.
  • Greater confidence in their ability to achieve farming goals, and their optimism was higher.
  • Significantly higher levels of general health.
  • Some regenerative graziers reported challenges in gaining acceptance in their local communities.

VBS summarised the environmental farm health assessment:

  • The legacy of past practices such as cropping or high fertilizer inputs were still substantial on many properties
  • Grassy woodland on the farms was observed to be regenerating, with the presence of many sensitive, rare species in the ground layer.
  • The average ground cover percentage of the participants’ properties was up to 18% higher than the average in the locality (10km² radius) over time.

Final comment

Although the researchers note that it is not possible to draw a casual links between the condition of the ecosystem and profitability or wellbeing, the results confirm a particular set of benefits being experienced by regenerative graziers.

2018 - Australia - Vanguard Business Services - Ogilvy, S., Gardner, M., Mallawaarachichi, T., Schirmer, J., Brown, K., Heagney, E.
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