From conservation to automation in the search for sustainability

James Pratley, John Kirkegaard

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    Barr and Cary (1992), in their book “Greening a Brown Land”, describe Australian agriculture as a“…200-year search for sustainable land use”. The problem with that notion, as they point out, is that sustainability is not fixed but evolves with time as community attitudes change – the goal posts are forever moving. This means that there is a constant need to innovate in order to meet emerging challenges and grasp opportunities – and this need never abates. However, unlike the Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when the focus was to bring know-how together for mass food production, the current paradigm has food production as the aim, but with a range of caveats such as minimising greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment, improving human health and meeting market demands such as low pesticide residues, acceptable breeding methods and traceability. At the same time there needs to be efficient, profitable and resilient farm businesses to provide continuity to the market and to ensure quality of life for farm families and employees. Sustainability thus has several components including financial (including productivity), environmental and social.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAustralian agriculture in 2020
    Subtitle of host publicationFrom conservation to automation
    EditorsJim Pratley, John Kirkegaard
    Place of PublicationWagga Wagga, Australia
    PublisherAustralian Society of Agronomy
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9780648581901
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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