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Grain grower survey underway: Southern Cross Uni seeks farmers

Corn crop Hanabeth Luke Adam Canning

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Published
20 March 2024

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 (GRDC) as part of the announced recently project, Regenerative Agriculture: Understanding the intent, practices, benefits and disbenefits.

Southern Cross researcher Dr 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. We seek to gauge current perceptions of regenerative agriculture amidst diverse farming systems,” said Dr Luke.

“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.”

Hanabeth Luke and Adam Canning in corn crop
Dr Hanabeth Luke with Dr Adam Canning inspect a corn crop.

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

The Southern Cross University research team will then recruit 75* crop farmers for a broader, three-year project that 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.

Project lead Dr Adam Canning of Southern Cross University said: “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.”

GRDC logo

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 Southern Cross University's Faculty of Science and Engineering. This team – comprising experts in soil health, agronomy, ecology, rural sociology, and natural capital accounting – will provide independent scientific rigor throughout the project's recruitment, implementation, and reporting phases, ensuring balanced and evidence-based outcomes.

Survey

The online survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Survey link: https://scuau.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3HKnIKYYq3ZhT0i

The research is approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Southern Cross University (approval number: ECN 2024/027).

*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 Southern Cross University ethics and GRDC protocols are in place to ensure confidentiality of any individual data shared in the project.

Media contact

Sharlene King, Media Office at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or [email protected]