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The potential contribution of forage shrubs to economic returns and environmental management in Australian dryland agricultural systems

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  • Monjardino, Marta
  • Revell, Dean
  • Pannell, David J.

Abstract

In face of climate change and other environmental challenges, one strategy for incremental improvement within existing farming systems is the inclusion of perennial forage shrubs. In Australian agricultural systems, this has the potential to deliver multiple benefits: increased whole-farm profitability and improved natural resource management. The profitability of shrubs was investigated using Model of an Integrated Dryland Agricultural System (MIDAS), a bio-economic model of a mixed crop/livestock farming system. The modelling indicated that including forage shrubs had the potential to increase farm profitability by an average of 24% for an optimal 10% of farm area used for shrubs under standard assumptions. The impact of shrubs on whole-farm profit accrues primarily through the provision of a predictable supply of 'out-of-season' feed, thereby reducing supplementary feed costs, and through deferment of use of other feed sources on the farm, allowing a higher stocking rate and improved animal production. The benefits for natural resource management and the environment include improved water use through summer-active, deep-rooted plants, and carbon storage. Forage shrubs also allow for the productive use of marginal soils. Finally, we discuss other, less obvious, benefits of shrubs such as potential benefits on livestock health. The principles revealed by the MIDAS modelling have wide application beyond the region, although these need to be adapted on farm and widely disseminated before potential contribution to Australian agriculture can be realized.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Systems.

Volume (Year): 103 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (May)
Pages: 187-197

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Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:103:y:2010:i:4:p:187-197

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/agsy

Related research

Keywords: Whole-farm modelling MIDAS Economics Perennial species Erosion Carbon emissions Sequestration Animal health;

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References

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  1. Morrison, David A. & Kingwell, Ross S. & Pannell, David J. & Ewing, Michael A., 1986. "A mathematical programming model of a crop-livestock farm system," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 243-268.
  2. O'Connell, Michael & Young, John & Kingwell, Ross, 2006. "The economic value of saltland pastures in a mixed farming system in Western Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 371-389, September.
  3. Pannell, David J., 1997. "Sensitivity analysis of normative economic models: theoretical framework and practical strategies," Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 16(2), May.
  4. John, Michele & Pannell, David J. & Kingwell, Ross S., 2006. "Climate Change and the Economics of Farm Management in the Face of Land Degradation: Dryland Salinity in Western Australia," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25800, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Abadi Ghadim, Amir & Kingwell, Ross & Pannell, David, 1991. "An economic evaluation of deep tillage to reduce soil compaction on crop-livestock farms in Western Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-307.
  6. Pannell, David J., 1997. "Sensitivity analysis of normative economic models: theoretical framework and practical strategies," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 139-152, May.
  7. World Bank, 2009. "Building Response Strategies to Climate Change in Agricultural Systems in Latin America," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12473, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Finlayson, J.D. & Lawes, R.A. & Metcalf, T. & Robertson, M.J. & Ferris, D. & Ewing, M.A., 2012. "A bio-economic evaluation of the profitability of adopting subtropical grasses and pasture-cropping on crop–livestock farms," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 102-112.
  2. Kragt, Marit Ellen & Pannell, David J. & Robertson, Michael J., 2011. "Easy winnings? The economics of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils," 2011 Conference (55th), February 8-11, 2011, Melbourne, Australia 100575, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

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