In order to contribute to the development of sustainable farming practices specific to southern Australia, the department is a partner in the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC).
The FFI CRC aims to increase the adoption of sustainable and profitable farming systems based on perennial plants. These systems will help to reduce salinity and soil erosion, conserve biodiversity and contribute to drought and climate change adaptation. Other SA partners in the FFI CRC are SARDI, CSIRO and The University of Adelaide.
As one of the 16 participants in the FFI CRC, the department works with agribusiness companies, interstate environmental agencies, universities, catchment management organisations, farm research groups and the CSIRO to develop and promote new and innovative farming systems and technologies.
Through national collaboration and effort the CRC undertakes research that would not be possible for the department alone, including:
- new grazing systems based on perennial fodder shrub
- developing woody crop industries
- understanding of the biodiversity benefits of perennial production systems.
The FFI CRC outcomes are strategically aligned to South Australia's natural resource management objectives concerning soil and land management and climate change. In SA the focus area is the extensive lower rainfall agricultural zone (250 - 600 mm), which represents approximately 75% of the agricultural land in the state. The development of more sustainable perennial pasture options for this zone is a high priority given its high vulnerable to climate variability, particularly the predicted reduction in rainfall due to climate change, Specifically, the department provides support for the CRC project Enrich which focuses on the development of viable fodder shrub options for the broadacre livestock and cropping areas.
Some of the key outcomes for South Australia are:
- introduction of new farming systems and regional industries that are adapted to climate change and deliver biodiversity, soil protection and salinity benefits
- introduction of more sustainable and productive plants
- increased adoption of new plant technologies and industries.
The FFI CRC South Australian Adoption Manager is the department's Dale Stevenson, who plays a critical role in liaising between the FFI CRC partners, Natural Resources Management (NRM) Boards, researchers and industry in SA and promoting the increased adoption of perennial plant options.