The UWA Institute of Agriculture

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The UWA Future Farm 2050 research is published in leading academic and research journals.

Ecosystem and biodiversity

The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment: Can restoration of former agricultural land achieve multiple outcomes?

Michael P. Perring, Rachel J. Standish, Kristin B. Hulvey, Lori Lach, Tim K. Morald, Rebecca Parsons, Raphael K. Didham and Richard J. Hobbs (2012)

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 163, 14-27.

The ability of restoration approaches to provide valued ecosystem services needs to be assessed. The emerging carbon market provides an incentive to afforest agricultural landscapes and could potentially achieve multiple outcomes. However, planting monocultures for carbon sequestration may preclude effective delivery of other ecosystem services. Here, we describe the rationale behind the Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment, a long-term investigation into trade-offs that might prevent the simultaneous provision of high levels of multiple services in the agricultural landscape of south-western Australia. We compare a monoculture treatment of a fast growing native species (Eucalyptus loxophleba) with mixtures of 2, 4 or 8 native plant species. We selected species based on different traits that we predict will relate to the provision of different levels of multiple ecosystem services. We ask: Can restoration of multiple ecosystem services be achieved along with carbon sequestration? Nested treatments of nitrogen deposition and weed removal test whether ecosystem service outcomes respond to environmental changes. We show that historical land-use at the site has the potential to affect service delivery via different soil characteristics and survival of planted species. Ridgefield tests the possibility of restoring and managing agricultural landscapes for multiple ecosystem services, providing a much needed experimental investigation of trade-offs among ecosystem functions.

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Environmental protection; challenges for future farming.

Pannell, D.J. (2011)

AFBM Journal vol 8, 19-26

There has been increased public demand for environment protection, including in rural areas. Government programs and policies have responded to these demands in various ways, such as by attempting to increase farmer awareness of environmental issues, increasing budgets for rural environmental programs, increasing environmental regulation, purchasing water from irrigators for environmental purposes, and encouraging farmer adoption of new environmentally friendly practices. These changes create a number of challenges for farmers, including challenges related to maintaining farm productivity, meeting community expectations, living with less water and evaluating new opportunities. These challenges are described and discussed. While there certainly are challenges, it is concluded that they are not insurmountable.

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