For some it means the types of projects that our Catchment Management & Natural Resource Management regions invest in. For others it means the iconic Landcare model of farmers working together in their communities to improve biodiversity or soil health. For some it’s about practices that improve soils or reduce inputs – such as no till farming. For some, sustainable agriculture means adopting the industry recognised best management practices – like the Cotton BMP, SmartCane or Grazing BMP.
In reality – it is all of these things and more.
Here at the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), we’ve identified those things that we think are important in the mix of encouraging farmers to continue to improve the sustainability of their practices. Central to our views are three key principles. The first is that practices that can deliver productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship outcomes are most likely to be adopted by farmers and be enduring. The second is the importance of an evidence base. Any promotion and encouragement to change practice must be underpinned by rigorous evidence that the changes will result in the natural resource management outcomes sought. The third is that through their actions, farmers deliver environmental services for the benefit of the broader community, and that this stewardship should be recognised.
That’s why NFF is a huge supporter of Industry Best Management Practice (BMP) initiatives. These programs are developed by industry, for industry. Programs are founded in comprehensive research and development, and the practices that are endorsed and promoted by these programs are proven to deliver the intended outcomes. The assurance frameworks of these programs also provide an efficient method for monitoring and reporting the benefits of investment in change.
The other benefit of industry led BMP programs is that they often capture a broader audience than just those interested in environmental management. Furthermore, industry validated practices have productivity and profitability traits - which means that practices are more likely to be adopted and enduring than those that are only focused on environment factors.
Over the coming months, the Commonwealth will be reviewing how it invests close $1 billion dollars in natural resource management through the National Landcare Program. You can check what the current government priorities are at www.nrm.gov.au