Design challenges for 21st Century farming systems and their implications for northern Australia food bowl dreams

Design challenges for 21st Century farming systems and their implications for northern Australia food bowl dreams

Fri, 22/08/2014 - 10:00 to 11:00

About the Presenter

Professor Andrew Campbell is the Director of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods and Head of the School of Environment at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia. His research interests span the interactions between climate, water, energy, food systems and biodiversity, and the interface between knowledge, science and policy.

Andrew Campbell was previously Managing Director of Triple Helix Consulting, Chief Executive of Land & Water Australia and a senior executive in the Australian Government Environment portfolio.  He was instrumental in the development of Landcare, as Australia's first National Landcare Facilitator.  He chairs the board of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, is a Visiting Fellow at the Fenner School at the Australian National University, a Commissioner of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute for Company Directors.  Andrew Campbell still maintains an involvement in his family farm (forestry, grain crops and sheep) in south-eastern Australia, where his family have been farming since the 1860s.


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Globally, population growth and changing demographic and consumption patterns see increasing demand for food, but the traditional means of lifting food production through expanding and intensifying the footprint of agriculture is increasingly squeezed by land, water, energy, nutrient and carbon constraints. 

The task of developing sustainable and resilient farming systems that meet societal needs in volatile climates is formidable.  Rich economies like Europe, North America and Australia should set high-level strategic objectives for their agricultural and natural resource management systems.  For example:  to double food availability for consumption;  to double water and energy productivity;  to become a net producer rather than consumer of energy;  and to become carbon-neutral — by say 2030.  Each of these goals is technically ambitious.  Pursuing them in parallel represents a daunting integration task for both science and policy.  Doing so while respecting broader objectives around biodiversity, landscape amenity and social cohesion, will be a searching test for traditional approaches to research investment and management, for the interface between science and policy, and for knowledge management and science communication.

This presentation will explore how such objectives might be achieved, and their implications for research and extension, from research investment through to broader industry, stakeholder and community engagement — with a focus on northern Australia.

This presentation is adapted from a keynote address to the International Farming Systems Association Symposium at Humboldt University in Berlin in April this year.

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