Our farmers do an amazing job to produce some of the world’s best agricultural products.
Australia exports about 72% of the total value of agricultural, fisheries and forestry production, which in 2022–23 was an estimated $98 billion.
Today marks National Agriculture Day (AgDay) and this year’s theme is “grow you good thing”.
To celebrate, we want to thank our farmers for the work they do each day to ensure our food and fibre is top notch and highlight some innovative projects and programs that help our farmers grow.
By increasing trade and market access opportunities, encouraging innovation, enhancing Australia’s international standing on sustainable agriculture and climate action, and maintaining our world-class biosecurity system to protect our agricultural industries, we support farmers to succeed, make agriculture a $100 billion industry by 2030.
More than $100 million is being invested in to support the National Traceability Strategy, showing consumers and the countries we export to that our products are safe, clean, and sustainable from paddock to plate, further driving our access to premium overseas markets.
The government is working with farmers to increase uptake of climate-smart, sustainable practices, through programs and initiatives with $100 million each year from the Future Drought Fund (FDF). The fund helps farmers and communities become more prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of drought.
A trial project in the NSW Riverina is inspiring thousands of farmers to adopt non-conventional ways to conserve water and soil nutrients, with investment from the Future Drought Fund. Find out how they are “growing more grain per millimetre of rain”.
Riverine Plains is a farming systems group based across Wagga to Nagambi and Jerilderie across to Wodonga.
We specialise in farmer driven research that delivers on the ground benefits to our members.
Our members and farmers in the region are from drought prone areas, so we wanted to ensure they’re well equipped to prepare for drought in wetter seasons, especially the last season that we just went through.
The Future Drought Fund has been able to bring multiple farming systems groups together which allows us to reach a huge geographical footprint across the region.
We’ve been able to take the research that’s been done in these replicated trials and basically put it in real life scenarios with real farmers.
We are 55 kilometres east of Wagga. We farm just under 4,000 acres. We run quite a few composite ewes joined to terminal rams – poll dorsets.
The purpose of this trial in these two paddocks here behind me is based around the farming systems and optimal water sufficiency.
So in simple terms is, can we grow more grain per millimetre of rain?
So the overall hope for this trial was that we would take these proven drought measures and put them on a larger scale so that farmers could come in, see it and then implement it back on their property with the confidence that they’ve already seen it been proven.
When we moved here 20 years ago, grazing wheat and grazing canola crops were very minimal and everyone would just basically wait for the opening rains to germinate your sub clovers and other annual pasture species and lucerne, going to create your winter feed.
Overtime as we’ve discovered you sew your grain only crops and they grow pretty well, but you’ve got all this green biomass of feed sitting in a paddock, knowing you can’t fully utilise.
Farmlink is a non-for-profit organization. We work in extension and research and development.
So the 3 main concepts we’ve been looking at are end banking, nitrogen banking and diverse cropping so your legumes or your lupins and then we have also been looking at planting early and planting late.
In terms of the diversity part of this demonstration project the farmer has been finding that he has more crops to feed to his sheep, so he’s got vetch in the ground. He’s also finding the moisture in his soil is higher after panting a diverse crop, he’s also finding that he has a little bit more nitrogen in the soil for the next crop that he’s going to be putting in.
So we’ve been growing a lot more grazing wheats and now grazing canolas, we can sew on our opening rains in February/March and over time, we’ve become more confident in the grazing canolas and as we’ve seen we’re harvesting still amount of grain per hectare off our grazing crops, compared to our grain only crops, which are sewn a lot later.
As our rainfall pattern is changing, I believe we appear to be getting more February/March rain and a little less April/May rain, which traditionally you would sew grain only crops in May/June – we can sew quite confidently on the early rains and create some extra feed for our sheep in winter, which then enables us to increase our carrying capacity of our sheep.
By doing it for 13 years now, we’re ready to sew on the first rain in February or March. The crops germinate quite quickly, away from any soil and root diseases, and we’ll have feed within 4 to 6 weeks most years if we can get a good rainfall event.
We’ve just seen how many worms are here under the stubble load and the soil health that’s sustainable. I suppose it gives me peace of mind, that I know we’ve got good moisture here and that we can sew across a wider window because we’ve already had the opportunity to sew in February/March we know we’ve got sheep feed coming. On the next 5 or 10 millimetres of rain, it’s going to keep growing and growing.
Ever since I left school, Australia’s been talking about drought, or in major droughts. It’s always going to happen. So as long as we can prepare for the next one by having extra fooder on board, extra grain to feed our sheep, or be aware of the spring rainfall not being quite as good, we can prepare for it.
Everything we do is underpinned by our climate and environment. The Australian Government has allocated $17.7 million from the FDF for essential activities so farmers and regional communities can continue to access information and support to prepare for drought and drying conditions.
Tropical North Queensland drought hub director, David Phelps, talks about collaboration and cooperation to address drought and future-droughts. The combination of science and on the ground knowledge David says will “super-charge” our ability to prepare better together.
To me the way to really, really supercharge our knowledge is to combine the experience of the people on the land, in the organisations, in their own communities – with the best of the science. So really collaborate, bring all of that together and we’re building knowledge, not just from an academic “book-smart” point of view, but also from a real, experiential, learned “paddock-smart” point of view – bring those together.
The Australian Government is consulting on the future direction of the Future Drought Fund, which will inform how we invest to build drought resilience over the next 4 years.
Climate change and emissions
In addressing one the most significant challenges for the sector, Agriculture Ministers released Australia’s first National Statement on Climate Change and Agriculture, outlining our commitment to work in partnership with the sector and ensure Australia remains a world leader in sustainable production.
Ongoing investment in research, development and innovation through the 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) is delivering on priority issues for the agricultural sector including new technologies and production practices to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Our producers and land managers work hard to innovate, adapt and invest in the opportunities presented by a low-emissions future. Together, we can support the agriculture and land sectors to remain sustainable and competitive in the face of a changing climate. And when the times are hard, we are there to help our farmers through a range of rural assistance programs.
To help shape the role of agriculture and the land, in Australia’s economy-wide goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, consultation is happening now on the development of the Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan.
Our National Soil Strategy and National Soil Action Plan, which will be released later in 2023, recognises the crucial role soils plays in delivering resilience to climate change and growing a sustainable agricultural industry.
Australia's agricultural industry is a major source of jobs in rural and regional Australia with a workforce of just under 262,000 people.
Workforce programs are helping the sector access the labour it needs and provide rewarding careers in this great industry.
The Agricultural Workforce Working Group brought the Australian Government, unions, and employer groups together to find solutions to skill, attract, retain and protect workers in the agriculture and processing sectors.
Amongst other achievements, the group worked to ensure agriculture related courses were prioritised in the Fee-free TAFE initiative, attracting more than 9,500 agriculture related course enrolments earlier this year.
Maintaining our world-class biosecurity system is vital to protecting our agricultural industries and environment. As trade prospects continue to rise, we must continue to address biosecurity risks and opportunities for innovation.
The Australian Government is committed to sustainably funding Australia’s biosecurity system.
Biosecurity is a shared responsibility, including contributing to the cost to safeguard our country from potentially devastating pests and diseases and also respond to outbreaks that land on our shores.
The sustainable biosecurity funding package delivers a stronger and more sustainable biosecurity system.
You can watch our biosecurity officers in action protecting our nations natural assets. Aussie Border Security is on the Seven Network at 8pm (AEDT) this Sunday.