EverFarm – Climate adapted perennial-based farming systems for dryland agriculture in southern Australia
Authors: Robert Farquharson, Amir Abadi, John Finlayson, Thiagarajah Ramilan, De Li Lui, Muhuddin Anwar, Steve Clark, Susan Robertson, Daniel Mendham, Quenten Thomas and John McGrath
This study has assessed new perennial pastures and mallee trees for biomass as adaptation options for dryland farming systems in southern Australia. Multi-disciplinary farm economic analysis demonstrated that Mallees as a biomass tree crop can be cohesively integrated into existing farming systems with minimal interruption to normal operations of livestock and cropping enterprises. Introduction of the woody biomass crop can be profitable and diversify revenue risk by enabling farmers to supply biomass and sequester carbon to relevant markets. The results of a small survey of farmers/graziers, agricultural consultants and researchers indicated that they were not adverse to a new farming activity or concept, despite the lack of an existing market or infrastructure for farm grown woody biomass. Farmers were willing to be innovative and adaptable in response to a changed environment, although economic, rather than environmental outcomes were the main motivator. This report also demonstrates suitable designs of a mallee belt planting layout that minimizes costs and maximizes benefits when planted in appropriate agro?climatic zones and where there are adequate soil conditions. Knowledge developed from this work will help build farmers’ capacity for climate change adaptation and assist in achieving positive social, environmental and economic outcomes.