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Developing a business case for monitoring natural resources on farm
Monitoring on-farm natural resources is increasingly recognised as essential to achieving sustainable land and water management. Data on the condition of soil, water and vegetation (including native and improved pastures), on farm can enable producers to take a more fact-based approach to on-farm decision making. Many landholders undertake adhoc monitoring through daily observations relating to changes in natural resource condition on their property. However, the majority of land managers do not undertake any formal monitoring or apply consistent methods for monitoring or document their observations. This lack of systematically recorded monitoring data for on-farm resource condition is a gap in the farm management.
This project aims to provide the foundation for a MLA communications initiative (under its education and extension program) to promote the benefits of monitoring on-farm natural resource condition. It builds upon a project finalised by Hyder involving a national evaluation of on-farm natural resource monitoring tools.
Hyder undertook extensive consultation with a number of large pastoral companies and smaller agricultural enterprises to identify red meat producers who were currently monitoring on-farm natural resource condition. Over 125 producers were contacted by Hyder and 50 producers were sent a survey, including questions related to determining business benefits associated with on-farm monitoring. Eight case studies were selected from the completed surveys which highlighted a range of business benefits associated with on-farm monitoring of natural resources. These benefits can be categorised according to internal business drivers and external business drivers.
Key conclusions which can be drawn from this study include:
- Monitoring of natural resources is integral for ensuring effective on-farm planning and decision making.
- A diversity of tools, ranging from the simple to the sophisticated, are currently used by producers for on-farm monitoring of natural resource condition. However, the adoption of these tools is largely dependent upon their ability to create business benefits in on-farm environments which are typically resource constrained.
- Internal drivers for on-farm monitoring of natural resources include the potential for reducing production costs and risks, increasing asset values and productivity and provision of alternative income streams.
- External drivers for on-farm monitoring of natural resources include ensuring compliance with environmental regulatory requirements and meeting public expectations regarding the production of food.
- Further research is required to accurately quantify benefits associated with on-farm monitoring. The findings of this research may be used to develop a more compelling business case for on-farm monitoring of natural resources.
This page was last updated on 24/07/2017
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