Researchers seek 500 farmers for survey on regen cropping

Grain Central, March 21, 2024

Adam Canning and Hanabeth Luke with a corn crop on farm at Codrington in the Northern Rivers district of NSW. Photo: SCU

GROWING interest in regenerative farming practices has seen many on the land pursue alternative solutions for challenges like soil erosion, soil water-holding capacity, landscape health, rising input costs, changing markets and consumer expectations.

Grain farmers’ perceptions of regenerative agriculture and their farming practices and goals is the focus of an online survey led by Southern Cross University.

The survey has the support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation as part of the recently announced Regenerative Agriculture: Understanding the intent, practices, benefits and disbenefits project.

SCU researcher Hanabeth Luke is leading the survey component of the project.

“This survey aims to understand farmer goals and their alignment with practices in the regenerative agriculture toolkit,” Dr Luke said.

“We seek to gauge current perceptions of regenerative agriculture amidst diverse farming systems,”

“This research will help establish the what, as well as the why or why not, of regenerative agriculture in Australian grain production.

“We are seeking around 500 crop farmers from around the country to complete the online survey.”

The online survey is live now and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

The findings will help build an enhanced understanding of grower goals and practices, as well as their perceptions of regenerative agriculture.

The SCU research team will then recruit 75 grain growers for a broader three-year project.

It aims to establish effective ways to monitor the potential benefits or disadvantages of regenerative agriculture in Australian cropping systems across a range of agronomic, soil health, ecological, social, and economic indicators.

Regenerative agriculture techniques have gained popularity in recent years, yet a regulatory or widely accepted definition remains elusive in Australia.

This survey aims to enhance understanding of pertinent farming objectives and their potential impacts on soil, land, and business management.

“This research will play a key role in providing clarity around the use of environmental, social and agronomic indicators for grain growers wanting to assess and monitor their progress towards the various regenerative goals they may have,” SCU researcher Dr Adam Canning said.

Dr Giacomo Betti is the GRDC manager sustainable cropping systems – South.

“This investment aims to provide Australian growers with clarity regarding the integration of regenerative agriculture into our cropping systems,” said Dr Betti.

“Crucially, the success of the project hinges on the active participation of growers in implementing a diverse range of practices. This will enable the development of a balanced dataset and facilitate the drawing of meaningful conclusions.”

To ensure impartiality, GRDC has assembled a multi-disciplinary team from SCU’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

This team comprises experts in soil health, agronomy, ecology, rural sociology, and natural capital accounting, and will provide independent scientific rigour throughout the project’s recruitment, implementation, and reporting phases, ensuring balanced and evidence-based outcomes.

The 75 recruited growers will be asked to provide access to their land so measurements can be taken and relevant data can be shared.

Both SCU ethics and GRDC protocols are in place to ensure confidentiality of any individual data shared in the project.

Source: Southern Cross University, GRDC



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