- Two research projects led by Charles Sturt University academics receive nearly $900,000 in funding from the Soil Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)
- One project will examine the economic and social benefits of regenerative agriculture, and the second project will examine soil stewardship certification and verification schemes
- Both projects form part of the CRC’s aim to increase the productivity of Australian agriculture through cutting-edge soil research
Two Charles Sturt University-led research projects have been awarded almost $900,000 in funding from the Soil Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
The funding was formally announced by Soil CRC last week and has been awarded to projects led by Professor Mark Morrison in the School of Management and Marketing in Bathurst and Dr Sosheel Godfrey in the School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences in Wagga Wagga.
Professor Morrison’s project, ‘Determining the potential of certification, verification and related concepts for rewarding soil stewardship’, will receive $500,000 over two-a-half-years, and Dr Godfrey’s project, ‘Defining the economic and social benefits of regenerative farming systems’, will receive almost $370,000 over three years.
The projects were selected by Soil CRC to form part of its latest $7 million research investment to increase the productivity of Australian agriculture through cutting-edge soil research.
Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Michael Friend congratulated the two research teams and said the funding is a reflection of the University’s ongoing commitment to impactful agricultural research.
“Soil health is critical to the future of Australian agriculture and thus, our regional communities,” Professor Friend said.
“But often there are not strong financial incentives for farmers to support good soil stewardship practices.
“These projects will provide an evidence-based framework for recognising good soil stewardship practices, and as such, underpin future incentives to reward farmers for adopting such practices.
“We are delighted our researchers have been recognised by Soil CRC and selected for this funding as it will support Charles Sturt University to continue to deliver research outcomes that provide social and economic benefits to our communities and the nation.”
Professor Morrison’s study builds on high levels of interest generated from earlier Soil CRC projects seeking to activate markets to provide farmers with better financial incentives to adopt soil stewardship practices.
The project will involve reviewing existing certification schemes and working with and interviewing a range of stakeholders, including farmer groups and agri-finance organisations, to develop a potential certification or verification solution.
“In order to effectively activate markets so that they reward soil stewardship requires appropriate access to information to enable markets to emerge and function effectively,” Professor Morrison said.
“Currently there is a lack of education and understanding of what constitutes good soil stewardship and how and when it is practiced, as well as the capacity to audit actions and outcomes.
“Certification and verification are potential approaches to address this deficiency and to link soil stewardship and sustainable agricultural practices to product quality in the minds of consumers, financiers and other key stakeholders.”
Dr Godfrey’s study, through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, will commence in August and will be carried out in six different Australian farming regions.
The research team will develop a framework to examine the economic, social and environmental co-benefits of adaptive regenerative farming management and how this is linked explicitly to healthy soil practices. Their research will build on the existing Soil CRC project for regenerative farming systems.
“The economic, environmental and social benefits of regenerative agriculture have not yet been fully defined,” he said.
“There is a need to understand any trade-offs between the development of healthy ecosystems, such as soil health, and high-quality food and fibre production.
“The project aims to fill this gap in the Australian context and to provide a relevant, practical and usable decision support framework for farmers considering transitioning to regenerative agriculture.”
The Soil CRC is funded through the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Program and 40 partners, including eight universities, four state agencies, eight industry leaders and twenty farmer groups.
The study led by Professor Morrison also includes participants from Southern Cross University, University of Southern Queensland, University of Tasmania and Birchip Cropping Group.
Dr Godfrey’s study also includes participants from Soils For Life, Federation University Australia and Harper Adams University in the UK.