Van Grieken, M.E. and Webster, A.J. and Poggio, M. and Thorburn, P. and Biggs, J. and Stokes, C. and McDonald, C. (2010) Implementation costs of Agricultural Management Practices for Water Quality Improvement in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments. CSIRO: Water for Healthy Country National Research Flagship. Project Report. CSIRO.
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Executive summary. In this report we analyse implementation costs and benefits for agricultural management practices, grouped into farming systems. In order to do so, we compare plot scale gross margins for the dominant agricultural production systems (sugarcane, grazing and banana cultivation) in the NRM regions Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Mackay Whitsundays. Furthermore, where available, we present investment requirements for changing to improved farming systems. It must be noted that transaction costs are not captured within this project.
For sugarcane, this economic analysis shows that there are expected benefits to sugarcane growers in the different regions through transitions to C and B class farming systems. Further transition to A-class farming systems can come at a cost, depending on the capital investment required and the length of the investment period. Obviously, the costs and benefits will vary for each individual grower and will depend on their starting point and individual property scenario therefore each circumstance needs to be carefully considered before making a change in management practice.
In grazing, overall, reducing stocking rates comes at a cost (reduced benefits). However, when operating at low utilisation rates in wetter country, lowering stocking rates can potentially come at a benefit. With win-win potential, extension is preferred to assist farmer in changing management practices to improve their land condition. When reducing stocking rates comes at a cost, incentives may be applicable to support change among farmers.
For banana cultivation, the results indicate that the transition to C and B class management practices is a worthwhile proposition from an economic perspective. For a change from B to A class farming systems however, it is not worthwhile from a financial perspective. This is largely due to the large capital investment associated with the change in irrigation system and negative impact in whole of farm gross margin. Overall, benefits will vary for each individual grower depending on their starting point and their individual property scenario.
The results presented in this report are one possible set of figures to show the changes in profitability of a grower operating in different management classes. The results in this report are not prescriptive of every landholder. Landholders will have different costs and benefits from transitioning to improved practices, even if similar operations are practiced, hence it is recommended that landholders that are willing to change management undertake their own research and analysis into the expected costs and benefits for their own soil types and property circumstances.
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