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Developing a mixed farming systems RD&A program

Did you know that a 10 year, $39.3m investment into mixed farming can produce a net value of $921m?


Mixed farming involves livestock and cropping operations on the same farm and covers approximately 47 million hectares of farm land in southern and Western Australia.

While significant advances have been made in understanding the integration of livestock with cropping in past investment programs, there remain significant gaps and opportunities to improve the integration of beef and sheep production in mixed farming systems. This scoping study informed the development of an Investment Plan for a Mixed Farming Systems research, development and adoption (RD&A) program.

By performing modelling across six key regions and consulting with regional producer groups, this project performed a stocktake to create an investment plan for a mixed farming systems RD&A program.


This project aimed to establish the economic, social and environmental benefits of mixed farming system businesses and analyse the results of previous RD&A investments to identify prospects for more effective mixed farming practices.

Key findings

Seven key themes for practice change were identified for investment:

  • Whole farm management - producers making informed decisions to optimise whole-farm business performance.
  • Advisor skills - advisors to have the capability and confidence to support producers to make informed whole-farm decisions.
  • Profitable animal production - producers to manage animal production systems to optimise opportunities presented by mixed farming systems.
  • Precision livestock - producers use precision management in livestock to optimise mixed farm profit and resilience.
  • Labour - producers to apply labour sources and labour saving technologies that optimise farm profit and resilience
  • Feedbase management - producers to grow enough of the right feed at the right time to optimise their crop and livestock productivity.
  • Grazing crops - producers to make informed decisions on utilising crops for grazing and grain to optimise farm profit and resilience.

Investments in these themes will support producer development, training and the adoption of efficient extension activities to improve farming profitability.

Benefits to industry

If the current financial performance of the top 20% of producers could be emulated by the middle 60% across the entire mixed farming region in southern and Western Australia, the additional farm profit would be worth $2.8 billion per year.

MLA action

Following the completion of this investment plan, MLA engaged several parties to develop a Rural R&D for Profit program application, which was submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in 2018. The project focused on developing initiatives against the priorities identified through the mixed farming investment plan.

Although this application was ultimately unsuccessful, MLA continues to engage the with the application partners to discuss how priorities in this area can continue to be addressed.

Related resources

MLA publications



Contract No. Title Start date End date Funding type
Developing a mixed farming systems RD&A program
19/12/2016 15/04/2018

This page was last updated on 16/04/2020