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Evaluating combined land conservation benefits from perennial pasture: lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) for management of dryland salinity and herbicide resistance in Western Australia

Listed author(s):
  • Graeme J. Doole
  • David J. Pannell

The inclusion of perennial pasture phases in cropping rotations has been widely promoted throughout Australia for reducing the incidence of dryland salinity. To a lesser extent, they have also been promoted to enhance the management of herbicide-resistant weeds. No previous economic analysis of perennial pasture has considered both of these benefits. This study combines a dynamic linear programming model to estimate the magnitude of salinity-related benefits and a complex simulation model to assess the economics of herbicide-resistance management. We present a case study of the perennial pasture lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, where the weed annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaudin) is resistant to multiple herbicide groups. Sequences incorporating lucerne are the most profitable land use at the standard set of parameter values if (i) annual ryegrass is resistant to all selective herbicides, (ii) the water table is so shallow (approximately > 3.5 m deep) that frequent rotation with perennials is required to avert soil salinisation, (iii) sheep production is highly profitable, or (iv) there is a combination of less extreme cases. The value of perennial pasture is sufficient under these circumstances to overcome its high establishment cost and the displacement of multiple years of crop. Consideration of dryland salinity and herbicide resistance are about equally important in evaluating the economics of lucerne; neither should be neglected. Copyright 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation 2009 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Inc. and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

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Article provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its journal Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 231-249

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ajarec:v:53:y:2009:i:2:p:231-249
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  1. Pannell, David J. & McFarlane, Donald J. & Ferdowsian, Ruhi, 2001. "Rethinking the externality issue for dryland salinity in Western Australia," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 45(3), September.
  2. George, R. J. & Nulsen, R. A. & Ferdowsian, R. & Raper, G. P., 1999. "Interactions between trees and groundwaters in recharge and discharge areas - A survey of Western Australian sites," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 91-113, February.
  3. Latta, R. A. & Cocks, P. S. & Matthews, C., 2002. "Lucerne pastures to sustain agricultural production in southwestern Australia," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1-3), pages 99-109, February.
  4. 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.
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