Yellow flowers of a canola crop in an Australian paddock

Sustainable Agriculture Flagship

Sustainable Agriculture Flagship: addressing productivity and food security in a carbon constrained world

CSIRO's Sustainable Agriculture Flagship aims to reduce the carbon footprint of Australia’s land use whilst achieving the productivity gains needed for prosperous agricultural and forest industries and global food security.

  • 30 June 2009 | Updated 4 June 2012

National challenges and benefits

Australian agriculture faces critical challenges in the decades ahead such as:

  • the need to reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint
  • the need to improve productivity to ensure prosperous rural industries and, on the global stage, to ensure food security
  • the need for long-term maintenance of healthy soils and ecosystems
  • making the best use of water, nutrient and energy resources
  • developing complementary land use options for agriculture, forestry and natural ecosystems.

Australian research is well placed to address these challenges and, in doing so, help build global solutions for carbon and food security.

Australian research is well placed to address agricultural sustainability challenges and, in doing so, help build global solutions for carbon and food security.

The national challenge goal of the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship will be to secure Australian agricultural and forestry industries by increasing productivity by 50 per cent and reducing net carbon emissions per unit of food and fibre by at least 50 per cent between now and 2030.

The specific targets include:

  • achieving total factor productivity growth across Australia’s key agricultural industries of at least 2 per cent per annum over the next 20 years
  • reducing the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food and fibre production by at least 50 per cent by 2030 through a mix of productivity growth, emissions reduction and carbon storage in soils and vegetation.
Looking across a cereal crop towards rolling hills and agricultural land

Agriculture and forestry activities occupy approximately 70 per cent of the Australian land surface.

The Flagship will deliver on its goal through:

  • new and enhanced technologies and practices
  • innovation in knowledge-based services
  • informing policy options
  • building capacity and institutions.

Research areas

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship research is focused on four main areas:

Greenhouse gas management and carbon storage in land use systems

The Flagship will develop science, technology, measurement and management systems to support a 50 per cent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production from Australian landscapes by 2030.
Advancing agricultural productivity and environmental health

Olive farm in an Australian agricultural landscape

Science can support an evolving rural land use mix that maximises national benefits whilst protecting the natural assets base for future generations.

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship aims to increase the total economic value of Australian agriculture and forestry, whilst enhancing ecosystem resilience and function, through improved resource use efficiencies and innovative farm and industry practices.

Landscape systems and trends

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship is helping Australian agricultural and forestry landscapes to be monitored and managed through innovative earth observation and knowledge systems which inform land use planning, policy options and natural resource assessment.

Partnering for International Food and Fibre Security

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship is deploying Australian expertise and innovation to address global carbon challenges and create a more food secure world.

Partnering for impact

The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship draws on the skills of scientists from many different disciplines and collaborates with a range of organisations including:

  • Industry: Rural Research and Development Corporations, peak agribusiness bodies and companies,  emerging service industries for the carbon sector
  • Government: Federal Government (Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Climate Change, and Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts), State Governments,  International (AUSAID, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR))
  • Research Community: Australian universities, state agencies, Cooperative Research Centres, international  institutes and agencies, national agricultural research and development systems in developing countries.

Our research teams are based in all States and Territories, including CSIRO’s regional laboratories.

The Flagship will complement existing CSIRO Flagships: Food Futures, Water for a Healthy Country, Energy Transformed and Climate Adaptation.

Download the information sheet Sustainable Agriculture Flagship brochure.

Find out more about the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship.