This week, two thousand farmers and landholders on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia will be receiving a survey.
The surveys are part of a Soil CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) project to understand what farm management practices are being undertaken, and why farmers choose the farming methods that they do.
They also aim to determine what information and technical support farmers are seeking.
Led by Southern Cross University’s Dr Hanabeth Luke, the project is a collaboration with local Eyre Peninsula farming groups LEADA and EPARF, as well as the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management board and PIRSA – Primary Industries and Regions South Australia.
It has been funded by the Soil CRC.
“We’re gathering a national data set to gain an understanding of what’s happening for Australian farmers and for soils across our farming systems,” said Dr Luke.
“To be able to better support farmers and farming systems to become more resilient, we need to understand the important challenges faced by farmers; their goals and what support they need to reach those goals.”
“We also need to understand the decision-making behind why they operate as they do: are they adopting best practice and new innovative approaches? If not, we need to understand what the barriers to this may be. For example, are barriers economic or a knowledge issue? Or do they relate to things like values and trust in local organisations?”
“All of these things come together to help us to understand the complexities driving these systems so the partner organisations and scientists from the Soil CRC can best target their efforts.”
The survey has been co-designed by Dr Luke and partners to guide strategic directions of the Lower Eyre Agricultural Development Association (LEADA) and the Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation (EPARF) as they come together to form AIR EP.
David Davenport, an Eyre Peninsula consultant who has been involved in developing the survey, says that “Farmers are becoming increasingly time poor and this information will aid farming system groups and research organisations to provide better targeted research with results delivered in ways that are most suited to farmers.”
It will also support the work of the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management Board.
“The end goal of the project is to ascertain how to best engage and support farmers moving into the future. We need to be developing resilience now more than ever across our farming systems,” said Dr Luke.