Guide Pastures: Dynamics, Economics and Management (Agriculture Issues and Policies)

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The clearing of native vegetation has declined since the s, as states and territories introduced regulatory controls.

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Vegetation management can profoundly affect landscape condition, soil health and the supply of ecosystem goods and services, such as food, fibre and water production. The importance of managing vegetation for ecosystem goods and services is reflected in on-the-ground investments being made through conservation programs, land clearing controls and environmental management systems. It provides a legal framework for protecting and managing flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places that are defined as matters of national environmental significance.


The objectives of the EPBC are to:. Environment protection objectives are also pursued by the Australian Government under the Caring for our Country initiative, which supports the environmental management of natural resources. The Caring for our Country initiative addresses six national priority issues:. This initiative supports regional natural resource management groups; local, state and territory governments; Indigenous groups; industry bodies; land managers; farmers; Landcare groups; and communities. The effects of climate change will vary across sectors and regions, altering risk profiles both positively and negatively.

Adapting to climate change will require information systems that identify the effects of climate change alongside other business management risks. Agriculture is the dominant source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions in Australia. Most agricultural emissions come from livestock methane , burning of savannas and nitrous oxide emissions from soils. More than 80 species of exotic vertebrate animals have established wild populations in Australia and more than 30 of these species have become agricultural or environmental pests. Major agricultural impacts of pest animals include:.

Around 28, exotic plant species have been introduced into Australia since European settlement, and 3, of these have become weeds. Many of these weeds are escaped garden plants. Weeds contaminate crops, displace pasture plants and compete with crop and pasture plants for water and nutrients.

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Weeds also harbour diseases and insect pests, reduce livestock carrying capacity and condition and can be toxic to livestock. Farmers consider weed control one of their highest priorities in the prevention of long-term land degradation. Warmer climates and faster transport systems can encourage pests and disease.

Within Australia, disease and pest security is also increasing with climate change and improved logistics. According to ABS data, the area planted to crops excluding pastures and grasses, and crops harvested for hay and seed increased between —93 and —10, from almost Projected increases in population will create further pressure for land use intensification for residential, commercial and production purposes. The potential effect of climate change on agriculture and the possible contraction of food-producing areas, such as the Australian wheatbelt, will add to this pressure.

Land use change needs to be monitored to manage Australian landscapes and implement policy settings and program arrangements dealing with agricultural productivity, biosecurity, carbon, natural resources management, biodiversity and food security. Australia is improving its capacity to track land use change, drawing on information such as satellite remote sensing and statistical collections. The recent move by the Australian Government to establish a National Plan for Environmental Information, and by the ABS to introduce land and water accounting, will further promote tracking and reporting on land use change.

More recent statistical evidence from the ABS confirms this general pattern of change in agricultural land uses. Between —93 and —06, the area of agricultural holdings decreased by 5. The most recent ABS information for —10 shows that the area of land used for agriculture has continued to decline, to 3,, square kilometres a The area planted to crops excluding pastures and grasses, and crops harvested for hay and seed increased by 42 per cent between —93 and —06, and by 50 per cent between —93 and —10 see Figure 3. However, there is considerable variability in the spatial distribution of change across Australia over the period.

For example, from —94 to —06, there was an increase in cropping area on the western slopes of New South Wales, western Victoria and generally across the grain-growing regions of South Australia and Western Australia see Figure 3. There was a small decline in the area under cropping across most of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. In some cases, land use change can be represented as a process of land use intensification. Agricultural land use intensification is one response to the challenges of the cost-price squeeze faced by agricultural producers and increasing population.

It reflects the attempt to secure more economic yield from each hectare through increasing concentrations of inputs, including nutrients, water, energy and management effort. Intensification is generally concentrated in the more agriculturally productive regions that have a greater range of viable land use options, including opportunities for irrigation.

Agricultural land use intensification is also concentrated in and around large population centres. Note: Weighting factors for land use categories and representative industries used to calculate land use intensity index. Statistical collections from the ABS Agricultural Census and Agricultural Resource Management Surveys indicate that major changes in farm management practices are underway. Conservation tillage helps promote improvements in soil carbon, reduced soil erosion and nutrient loss, cost savings and other production benefits. In , conventional tillage three or more cultivation passes was the most common practice by area in all states except Western Australia and South Australia.

An ecosystem services approach integrates the ecological, social and economic dimensions of natural resources management, including conservation and production objectives, by explicitly identifying and classifying the benefits from ecosystems.

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  • - Land Use in Australia - ANU;
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These include market and non-market, use and non-use, and tangible and intangible benefits. The ecosystem services concept has been used successfully in Australia and internationally to identify natural resource management priorities at the catchment, regional, national and global scales, and to report on the relationship between the environment and human wellbeing. For nearly two decades, it has been a component of Australian Government policies and programs focused on sustainable management and development. The ecosystem services concept is also identified in the overarching goal of the Caring for our Country initiative.

The ecosystem services approach is particularly relevant to using and managing land cover. Land cover is related to a range of ecosystem services, such as helping to regulate water flow and maintain water quality. Such services have traditionally been treated as public goods with little or no explicit financial value, but this is changing.

Potential payments for vegetation-based services, such as biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, salinity abatement and opportunities for ecotourism, wildlife photography and environmental education, can provide significant environmental, economic and social benefits and contribute to reducing the cost of management. While markets for such services remain a minor component of the national economy, they are expected to grow.

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These include scientific and economic analysis and modelling; data including survey collection and statistical analysis; risk assessment and management; geographical mapping, particularly in areas related to natural resource management; commodity and market analysis; and integrated analysis. ABARES has an established capacity to compile national land use, land management and land cover information, and track change using regular statistical collections by government and industry and remotely sensed imagery.

These types of information are combined to take advantage of their complementary spatial and temporal characteristics—for example, in the national-scale land use mapping produced by ABARES. National-scale land use mapping is modelled using coarse-scale satellite data pixel size of 1. National-scale mapping produced by ABARES is in strong demand for synoptic-level land use assessments, and for strategic planning and evaluation such as developing programs for natural resource management.

It is also used in modelling applications, such as national carbon accounting and salinity assessments, at the river-basin level. A dynamic land cover map and databases for Australia produced by Geoscience Australia in partnership with ABARES provide new insights into aspects of land use and land management change for Australia.

This database can provide insight into the response of land cover to a wide variety of drivers—both natural and anthropogenic. The data are being used initially to support soil erosion modelling, and it is intended that this will be extended to mapping management practices such as tillage and stubble management in the cropping zone. Partners include key national research organisations i. In —08, the Agricultural Resource Management Survey was conducted by the ABS to provide a baseline of key practices to help guide national investment programs to improve natural resources management. Practices include those relating to tillage, stubble management, ground cover management, fertiliser use, soil testing and liming.

This survey was also run for —10, and will be run again for — These results will be used to measure change in land management practices over time. Layers can be combined using simple weights, complex functions or through pair-wise comparison. It also allows users to document their results and the decision-making process, including assumptions.

Land use and management | Australia State of the Environment Report

MCAS-S assists in decision-making in situations in which transparency between different approaches to map combinations is needed. Stakeholders can see the effects their decisions may make. Successful use of the software does not require geographic information system GIS programming, which removes the usual technical obstacles non-GIS users have in accessing and analysing spatial information. MCAS-S is being used at the national, regional and catchment scale for:. These data included modelled wind erosion data created using a model , an index of dust storm activity based on observed data, and expert opinion rankings by region of the extent and severity of wind erosion.

The input data layers were weighted for each state according to expert opinion on their confidence in each layer, and were combined spatially using the MCAS-S tool. The darker areas are those with the highest wind erosion extent and severity in Australia, as determined by an expert panel.

Note: The states were analysed individually and then combined to provide a national picture. These include:. The Sustainable Land and Forest Management Research Agenda project has strengthened technical cooperation in areas of common interest. Guidelines for land use mapping in Australia: Principles, procedures and definitions. Land use of Australia, — 06 version 4.

Agricultural resource management survey — Retrieved from www. Land management and farming in Australia — 08 Report no.

Land Use in Australia

Agricultural census, —96 and — Agricultural resource management surveys, —08 and — Bureau of Rural Sciences. Clancy, T. Gammage, B. The biggest estate on earth. Lesslie, R. Landscapes in transition: Tracking land use change in Australia. Science and Economic Insights , 2.

McKenzie, N. Australian soils and landscapes: An illustrated compendium. Smith, J. Identification of areas within Australia for reducing soil loss by wind erosion.

Role of Agriculture in Economic Development

Canberra, ACT. Retrieved from agriculture. To view the updated map of land use of Australia, —11, see www. Part 2 — Ad Hoc or Strategic Responses 5. Down Payments on National Environmental Accounts Under the Australian Constitution, the state governments have prime responsibility for land administration and public land management. Even so, Van Dijk et al. This has obvious implications for policy-makers and the sheep and cattle industries, and raises the need for improved diagnosis and early detection of livestock parasitic disease, along with greatly increased awareness and preparedness to deal with disease patterns that are manifestly changing.