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:: NO TILL IN W-AUSTRALIA
www.gdrc.com.au
No-till R&D investments return 36 to 1

An independent economic analysis of GRDC investment in no-till farming research has found that the corporation’s $4 million investment has returned $141 million in benefits to the grains industry – a benefit-cost ratio of 36 to one.

Queensland-based economic research agency Agtrans Research reviewed the GRDC investment in eight WA No-Till Farmers association’s research and extension programs over the nine years to 2008.

According to Agtrans research managing director Dr Peter Chudleigh, the GRDC investment had helped grain growers achieve higher average grain yields, leading to higher average profitability, particularly in low rainfall years.
“The GRDC/WANTFA investment encouraged no-till practices in Western Australia to continuously evolve, resulting in improved outcomes of efficiency gains for those already using no-till and encouraging more cropping farmers to adopt no-till over time,” Dr Chudleigh said.

“The no-till projects in Western Australia raised awareness of no-till opportunities and benefits and provided greater confidence to those willing to undertake change.”

Quantified benefits of the GRDC’s investment included short term gains from improved soil moisture retention and longer term benefits such as improved weed and pest control and reduced soil erosion.

The analysis took into account that no-till farming practices were already being adopted by WA farmers when GRDC investment began in the mid 1990s, as well as the efforts of other organisations’ contributions to no-till adoption and extension.

Dr Chudleigh said that the additional research supported by GRDC accelerated the uptake and improved the effectiveness of no-till farming methods.

“The most important characteristic of the investment has been its integrated R&D and extension nature. This has undoubtedly led to quicker and more effective application of no-till technologies. The investment has raised awareness of no-till opportunities and benefits and provided greater confidence to those willing to undertake change.”

GRDC managing director Peter Reading welcomed the research findings.
“At GRDC we are continually striving to support research which can be effectively applied on the ground by growers,” Mr Reading said.

“The outcomes in this case are also a credit to the highly professional approach taken by the members and researchers involved at WANTFA.”



Impact Assessment: An Economic Analysis of GRDC Investment in Western Australian No Tillage Farming Association

An independent economic analysis of GRDC investment in no-till farming research has found that the Corporation’s $4 million investment has returned $141 million in benefits to the grains industry – a benefit-cost ratio of 36 to one.

Queensland-based economic research agency Agtrans Research reviewed the GRDC investment in eight WA No-Till Farmers association’s research and extension programs over the nine years to 2008.

Industry Productivity and Profitability
Short term
• Improved soil moisture storage from reduced soil disturbance and higher level of ground cover leading to higher yields in some years
• Ability to grow crops in dry years when otherwise not possible to grow
• Increased profitability of crop production from higher average yields, with decreases or minimal increases in operational costs
• Potential for increased yields/reduced losses/decreased costs due to improved control of pests and diseases
• Increased uptake of no-till technologies in Western Australia as well as in other cropping regions of Australia

Long term
• Higher yields from improved soil structure and higher organic carbon soil content
• Potential nitrogen contributions from leguminous cover crops
• Potentially improved weed and pest control and increased soil cover from use of cover crops
• More robust cropping systems able to cope with any climatic changes
• Potentially higher market returns for grain that is produced under best management practices in relation to the environment

Environmental
• Reduced soil and wind erosion from less tillage and increased ground cover leading to more sustainable farming systems and improved water quality in waterways
• Reduced level of chemical usage for pest control and less chemical exports off farm
• Reduced air pollution from reduced stubble burning and dust
• Enhanced soil biological activity and higher level of soil organic matter

Social
• Reduced impact of smoke on air quality in cropping regions
• Increased industry, community, and research capacity from student involvement
• Improved no-till infrastructure within Western Australia, Australia and overseas countries


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