Supporting farmers to make the transition to regenerative agriculture

South West Catchments Council (SWCC) has released a report on the key drivers, as well as barriers and risks, of the uptake of regenerative agriculture practices by farmers in Western Australia. The report recommends to government a series of actions that, if applied, may assist farmer’s in their decision making process when considering implementing more regenerative practices on their properties.

The WA State NRM Program funded report was part of a project led by SWCC, with contribution from WA’s six other NRM regions*.

A range of stakeholders across the agricultural industry participated in the research, including primary producers, agronomists, industry grower groups, pastoralists and more. Surveys and in-depth interviews were conducted to reveal key focus areas for government attention.

The main drivers of regenerative agriculture in WA were found to be:
• Younger farmers and ‘new’ primary producers entering the industry from various backgrounds and who are open to trialling new approaches
• Farmers facing financial challenges forced to look at alternative practices
• Farmers competing to be recognised for ‘healthy and quality produce’
• The shift in consumer demand toward more sustainable product

“Peer-review is really important to farmers and our research found that farmers are greatly influenced by leaders who have successfully adopted regenerative agriculture on their farms”, said SWCC CEO Sally Wilkinson, “but the critical piece of information that’s been missing is the profitability of regenerative agriculture in WA conditions. The government’s recent launch of ten-year trials of regenerative practices at Merredin, which will compare profitability to a benchmark of typical practices in the area, is a great step forward.”

The report also discusses the wide range of barriers towards the uptake of regenerative agriculture including:
• Farmers require evidence of profitability of regenerative agriculture practices, demonstrated at a local level
• Many farmers do not know how to implement regenerative practices
• When farmers are doing well financially, they are not inclined to change
• A lack of advisors skilled in regenerative agriculture and its omission from university courses

One of the other major barriers was revealed to be the definition of ‘regenerative agriculture’, with many stating it is problematic, and there is confusion as to which practices the term encompasses.

The report suggests the Government take action in six core areas and recommends nineteen actions that could increase the adoption of regenerative agriculture.

The full list of recommendations and the final report, titled ‘Supporting farmers to make the transition to regenerative agriculture’, can be downloaded here or contact [email protected] to obtain a copy.

This report is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

*Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, Perth NRM, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Rangelands NRM, South Coast NRM and Wheatbelt NRM.

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