Grow. Make. Prosper. The decadal plan for Australian Agricultural Sciences 2017-26

Jeremy Burdon, James Pratley, Bob Gibson, Ros Gleadow, Bronwyn Gillanders, Sue Hatcher, TJ Higgins, Roger Leigh, Ann McNeill, Stephen Powles, Beth Woods

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Abstract

Agriculture has played a central role in the history of humankind. It is the fundamental catalyst that allowed the development of civilisations and through productivity gains has made possible all other areas of human endeavour, including the sciences. Agriculture’s importance to civilisation will continue into the future, yet its success has allowed it to play a largely unnoticed part in modern, urban life. To the casual observer much of agriculture may appear unchanging. Seen from a passing car, crops and grazing livestock seem almost timeless. In reality, agricultural sciences are part of a highly dynamic industry regularly adopting recent innovations.

The Australian agricultural sector has a keystone position in the structure and functioning of the country as a whole. Producers have stewardship of more than 60% of Australia’s land mass, and the industry directly employs more than 307,000 workers—the biggest employer in rural and regional Australia. About 1.6 million Australians are employed in the complete agricultural supply chain including food manufacturing and processing, distribution and retail. Agriculture supports population decentralisation, provides the ‘life-blood’ and social fabric of inland Australian settlement, and the industry acts as a source of skilled labour for mining and other industries.

The purpose of this Decadal Plan for Agricultural Sciences is to identify and define actions that will position Australia’s agricultural sector to take advantage of major scientific and technological advances occurring over the coming decade. It aims to:
• provide strategic direction to Australia’s future investmentin agricultural sciences by identifying relative strengths andshortfalls in scientific capacity that need to be developed ormaintained to ensure Australia is strong, prosperous, healthy and food secure
• enhance the value of Australia’s research investment to ensure future economic prosperity and wellbeing by providing a strategic framework with which researchers can align and coordinate their efforts to leverage greater impacts
• identify workforce needs and strategies that enhance career pathways for graduate and postgraduate scientists from all fields that contribute to the agricultural sciences.

Chapters 1 and 2 outline how fundamental science and agricultural research will contribute to Australia’s successful agricultural future. Chapter 1 discusses the fundamental framework of drivers influencing agriculture. Chapter 2 identifies specific research areas that present strong opportunities in the medium to long term and opportunities to coordinate those research areas.

Chapter 3 shows that, to realise the future that Australia is capable of, we need to enable our researchers to achieve solutions through education, career development and retention of top-class researchers. Chapter 4 argues how it is essential to coordinate Australian research to prioritise and stabilise its funding so that it is commensurate with the nature of the challenges that agriculture faces into the future.

Finally, Chapter 5 recommends solutions for the challenges identified in previous chapters to consolidate Australia’s role in the future of agricultural sciences.

All parts of the sector share the responsibility for ensuring that Australia’s agricultural future is as bright as it can be: to achieve national priorities, to clarify and implement efficient funding arrangements, to manage research over the scales and timeframes that are commensurate with the challenges, and to nurture and safeguard our agricultural research capacity.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAustralian Academy of Science
Number of pages80
ISBN (Electronic)9780858475441
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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    Burdon, J., Pratley, J., Gibson, B., Gleadow, R., Gillanders, B., Hatcher, S., Higgins, TJ., Leigh, R., McNeill, A., Powles, S., & Woods, B. (2017). Grow. Make. Prosper. The decadal plan for Australian Agricultural Sciences 2017-26. Australian Academy of Science. https://www.science.org.au/files/userfiles/support/reports-and-plans/2017/agricultural-decadal-plan-2017-26.pdf