Current Research

The Institute currently has the following projects underway:

Recent Research

The Institute has recently completed the following projects:

Farm Biodiversity Scheme

In 2019 the Australian Government announced funding for the implementation of an Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme, to be developed and led by the National Farmers' Federation. As part of the Agriculture Stewardship Package, the aim of the scheme is to reward farmers for managing biodiversity on farm through market-based mechanisms and thus enable the continued provision of natural capital benefits to the wider community. 

The AFI is conducting Phase 1 of the Scheme, focused on desktop and consultative research, reviewing international best practice management standards for relevant agricultural biodiversity programs. The project for this phase will underpin the practical development and trial of biodiversity market mechanisms to be developed in phases 2 and 3. 

Managing farm-related land use conflicts in NSW

Land use conflict has significant effects on primary producers and the agricultural sector in NSW. With agricultural land occupying more than 80% of the State, these conflicts also impact on many communities attached to or dependent on farming. Farm-related land use conflict in NSW extends beyond neighbourhood amenity disputes and peri-urban zones, encompassing water management rights, health concerns, disagreement on zoning or planning choices and debates over best-practice farming in regions.

To evaluate the impact of land use conflict on NSW primary producers, this research project investigated relevant policies, frameworks and regulations with the aim of enabling compliant farmers to operate modern, competitive and sustainable farm businesses while maintaining harmonious and vibrant regional communities. The report is now complete and will be released by NSW DPI shortly.

Pathways for Australian primary industries climate research strategy

This project has assessed the effectiveness and impact of the Climate Research Strategy for Primary Industries (CRSPI) partnership over its 12-year life span with a focus on performance against the most recent strategic plan. The purpose of the assessment was to provide the CRSPI partners and stakeholders with information and recommendations for future coordination of climate research, development and extension in primary industries. To meet this purpose, the past performance, effectiveness and indeed the need for the CRSPI collaboration model must be cast forward in the context of a rapidly changing RD&E environment. The report is now complete and has been submitted to the CRSPI partners.

The changing landscape of protein production: opportunities and challenges for Australian agriculture

The AFI has conducted an evidence-based research project investigating the rise in alternative protein sources to the Australian agricultural industry to enable the industry to capitalise on future opportunities and overcome challenges presented by this trend. The project investigated outcomes for the entirety of the agricultural industry, including sectors such as grains and horticulture as well as those which are livestock-based. The project has concluded that the growing alternative proteins market offers opportunity for both animal and plant producers in Australia.  

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Defining and quantifying the components of trust in agricultural supply chains

New digital platforms (including blockchain) are being applied to agricultural value chains (AVCs) specifically to address and improve trust between AVC participants. Trust is a critical factor in AVCs ensuring coordinated supply and demand management of safe and legitimate food and fibre as well as financial transaction confidence and security.

This project will examine the various ways by which trust is developed and valued in AVCs. It is important to recognise however that while trust is critical for all AVCs, the components of supply chains for which trust is a critical issue will vary. This project will provide a thorough examination of where opportunities for technology platforms that address trust exist in AVCs and how those opportunities may differ between various sectors. It will also develop a framework for quantitatively assessing the value proposition associated with resolving AVC trust issues with technology platforms.

Change in the air: Defining the need for an Australian agricultural climate change strategy

Climate change is a ‘wicked problem’ representing not only a threat to the Australian agricultural sector’s profitability and international competitiveness but also to our long-term food security and the viability of some regional communities. The agriculture sector is both vulnerable to and partially responsible for the heightened challenges brought about by climate change. To minimise the severity of projected impacts of the warming trend caused by increased greenhouse gas levels, the sector has an imperative to continue efforts in emissions mitigation and to accelerate cross-industry progress.

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Reinventing Australian agricultural statistics

There has been a progressive degradation of the Australian agricultural statistics system over recent decades as the resources made available to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have diminished in real terms, and the focus of ABS activities has been directed towards the maintenance of statistical collections required as part of the national accounts. In the absence of a robust statistics system, Australian agriculture faces a very real risk that government policy decisions will be made that have an adverse impact on the sector, due to a lack of understanding of how the sector is structured and operates. This is a particular risk for the agriculture sector, given its dispersed nature and relatively small number of persons directly involved, and the difficulty participants face in seeking to influence policymakers.

The rapid growth in the amount of digital information generated within the agriculture sector that can be economically collected and stored potentially creates the opportunity to either supplement or substitute current ABS statistical data with existing industry data, reducing costs and compliance requirements on industry participants. The research project outlined here aims to fully investigate the potential to improve Australia’s current agricultural statistics system through the use of existing industry datasets, and to identify potential issues that may arise in response to proposals to use the datasets in this way. The research will predominantly consist of desktop research, supplemented by discussions with industry and government personnel as necessary. This project is supported by Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton RDC, GrainGrowers and Meat and Livestock Australia.

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Australian agriculture: an increasingly risky business

Risk is a fundamental feature of Australian farming and agribusiness, yet in many respects risk management systems in Australian agriculture are much less developed than is the case in other nations. This project aims to firstly develop a better understanding of the nature of risk in subsectors of Australian agriculture using available data. The research will then involve an analysis of the range of different options that are available to agricultural risk management. These will include the adoption of different business models (for example forward selling, contract supply arrangements, supply chain collaboration), and/or the use of either domestic or internationally traded soft commodity derivatives. The advantages and disadvantages of each will be identified and analysed, based on a combination of objective measures (where available) and insights gained from industry interviews.

The final part of the research will involve the development of an assessment framework that will be used to compare different risk management strategies, and identify potential initiatives that may be needed to facilitate improved risk management options for Australian agricultural businesses. This project is supported by AgriFutures, Dairy Australia, Cotton RDC, Grains RDC, Meat and Livestock Australia, and Rural Bank.

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