The UWA Institute of Agriculture

Ecosystem and biodiversity management

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Future Farm 2050 has three integrated commercial enterprises:

Australia is losing its iconic species of animals and plants at the fastest rate in history. Farmers are custodians of 60 per cent of Australia's landscape. They must be seen as the solution, not the problem - see 'The Conversation' .

The problems with the current farming practices

vegetation

About 35 per cent of the Future Farm area, or 500 ha, is not profitable for either animals or cropping. In hindsight this land should never have been cleared of the original native vegetation, as was dictated by the policies of the day. This situation is typical of farms in the Western Australian wheat/sheep zone, and probably typical for much of the Australian agricultural landscape.

Farmers can also be a solution for Australia's carbon emissions. We need to reduce emissions from agricultural practice, but agriculture is responsible for only 16 per cent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions (less if we count the coal Australia exports) whilst producing food for humanity as well as export income. The capture of carbon on the non-arable farmland could make a major contribution of greenhouse gas control.

Future Farm 2050 solutions

Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment

The Farm is re-establishing the native ecosystem on the non-arable areas to create a mix of mosaic and corridors that will eventually link the few remnants of native bush and extend to neighbouring farms, public roadside verges and nearby nature reserves.

In a project run by the Ecosystem Restoration Intervention Ecology Research Group, we are testing woody plant species, in mixtures representing 4 different functional groups based on nutrient acquisition strategies and morphologies. The project is examining how different species affect the provision of ecosystem functions and services, including carbon storage, nutrient cycling, invasion resistance, biodiversity maintenance, and prevention of soil erosion.