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Capability a poor guide to land use

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14 October 1999

Capability a poor guide to land use

‘ABARE research shows there are shortcomings in predicting future patterns of broadacre land use solely on the basis of land capability’, Mr Roger Rose, ABARE’s acting Executive Director, said when referring to an article in the September issue of ABARE’s, Australian Commodities.

‘More accurate projections can be made recognising that commodity prices are the big drivers of both enterprise mix and land use intensity’, he said.

‘Farmers have a range of management options available to them’, Mr Rose continued, ‘and land capability imposes little restriction on land use in many areas’.

This las far reaching implications for the development of national, state and local resource management strategies.

‘Regional analysis of land use patterns has shown marked changes in land use over the past decade’, Mr Rose said, ‘which reflect farmer responses to changing commodity prices’.

‘In regions where diversification is an option, farmers adjusted their production mix in response to changes in price relativities among commodities, resulting in a shift toward grain production’, he said.

‘Even where enterprise mix didn’t change, farmers responded by changing their intensity’, Mr Rose said. ‘For instance, along the coastal regions where the climate and topography limit broadacre production alternatives, farmers reduced the intensity of their operations.’

‘A better understanding of the influence of relative commodity prices on farmer’s enterprise mix and land use intensity decisions will improve our ability to predict patterns of land use in the future and help guide essential resource management decisions’, he concluded.

This research was published in an article, ‘Broadacre agriculture: changes in land use and returns in Australian in 1990s’, in the September issue of the Australian Commodities released on 14 September 1999.

For further information, contact Lisa Chapman on (02) 6272 2091.

For copies of the Australian Commodities, contact Publication Orders on 1800 244 129.

For general media enquiries, contact Margaret Day on (02) 6272 2260 or on 0408 487 825.

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