Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

New book charts course of Australian farming systems

A new book which explores the evolution of Australian farming systems over the past 30 years has been launched at the 19th Australian Agronomy Conference.

Professor Jim Pratley and Dr John KirkegaardThe e-book, Australian Agriculture in 2020: From Conservation to Automation, has been edited by Charles Sturt University Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley and CSIRO Chief Research Scientist and Charles Sturt Adjunct Professor Dr John Kirkegaard.

Professor Pratley is the plant systems research pathway leader at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, an alliance between Charles Sturt and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

He was the foundation Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at Charles Sturt, has been President of the Australian Society of Agronomy, and was awarded a Fellowship of the Society in 2017.

Professor Pratley said the book charts the changes in soil management practices in Australia’s history, as well as identifying the challenges facing farmers in the decades ahead.

“This book celebrates the achievements of agronomy, the research teams, and farmers in transforming our agricultural landscape to one of soil stability,” Professor Pratley said.

“It details the changes to farming practice and technology, including new approaches to weed, pest and disease management.

“Of course our understanding of sustainability has changed over time and the book also looks past 2020 to examine the challenges of climate change and the opportunities presented by digital agriculture and automation.”

Dr Kirkegaard is one of Australia’s leading agronomists and was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2016. In 2017, he was awarded the Farrer Medal for his contributions to agriculture.

He praised the innovative and resilient spirit of Australian farmers and agronomists.

“Farming systems must always evolve to meet emerging challenges, and the book records the success of partnerships between innovative farmers and evidence-based agronomy,” he said.

“It also demonstrates the optimism, ideas and emerging technologies that, with sufficient support, will meet the challenges of the future.”

Wagga Wagga is hosting the annual conference, run by Agronomy Australia and sponsored by Charles Sturt, the NSW DPI and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, from Sunday 25 to Thursday 29 August.

The Conference will draw more than 300 agronomists, advisors and researchers to the city, highlighting the latest research to improve crop and pasture production.

The Conference theme, ‘Cells to Satellites’, emphasises the point that agronomists are integrators working across a range of scientific disciplines but linked to the context of real farms to underpin practice change.

The book has been produced for Agronomy Australia and is free to download on the websites of Agronomy Australia and the Graham Centre.


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The Graham Centre is a research alliance between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)