Best practice environmental management is helping the grains industry retain native vegetation when converting to agricultural land, supporting biodiversity and productivity gains.

The challenge

Protecting biodiversity

We have been highly successful in developing wheat varieties and farming systems suitable for Australia's high rainfall zone.

This region is based on the effectiveness of rainfall extending along the east coast from Townsville down to Adelaide and includes Tasmania and the south-west corner of Western Australia.

However, increased cropping intensity in these new regions is likely to challenge the biodiversity of species in these areas.

While the importance of protecting vegetation has not historically been a concern when converting natural landscapes into agricultural land in Australia, there is growing recognition that the retention of native vegetation supports the ecosystem and benefits farming productivity.

Our response

Designing productive landscapes

We have undertaken a three-year collaborative project with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to 'design' landscapes that maximise production benefits, integrate stewardship responsibilities and maintain functional biodiversity assets.

It involved initial surveys of the biodiversity and cropping practices in Australia’s high rainfall zone to provide a picture of the biodiversity assets most at risk by increased cropping area and intensity, and the processes likely to threaten existing biodiversity.

The results

Informing best practice

Studies of areas representative of the region's biodiversity over a two year period have provided a detailed understanding of the impact of increased cropping on native vegetation and the ability of this native vegetation to assist the cropping system.

This is informing best practice integrated environmental management within the high rainfall zone for the Australian grains industry.

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