Researchers from the ANU Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics (RSFAS) will play an important role in a five-year project aiming to improve the management of Australian farmlands.
Led by foremost ecologist at The Australian National University (ANU), Professor David Lindenmayer AO from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, the project recently won a $2 million grant from the Ian Potter Foundation, which funds research into excellence and innovation.
The funds will contribute to the $13.5 million required for the project, that aims to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes in rural Australia by helping farmers better manage their farms as natural assets.
“This will be an incredible cross-disciplinary ANU collaboration that tackles complex, multi-faceted problems of national significance, and issues and problems that really matter to all Australians,” said Professor Lindenmayer.
Researchers will draw on time-series data collected in respect of as many as 350 farms from communities stretching from Northern Victoria, through NSW and into Southern Queensland.
RSFAS academics Associate Professor Emma Schultz, Dr Anton Westveld and Dr Grace Chiu will help to measure and statistically model the financial performance of these farms through time, and the extent to which these farms are affected by the adoption and ongoing use of improved environmental management practices.
The first step in this process will be the design of surveys to capture a range of financial measures to inform these studies.
"We want to show that a farm that is better managed environmentally will be better off financially, and also assist to improve the farmer's mental health and well-being," Professor Lindenmayer said.
"We want to help farmers make decisions and adopt practices that are ecologically sound, and focus on the farm's long-term sustainability."
Professor Lindenmayer said the ultimate aim of the project was to communicate, demonstrate and embed new farming practices so widely that they become 'the way things are done' within the next five years.
“It is fantastic to see RSFAS academics involved in this important project,” said Director of RSFAS, Professor Steven Roberts.
“The RSFAS places great importance on cross-College collaboration and this project is one of a number of exciting collaborations the school is currently involved in.
“I would like to thank Professor Lindenmayer for leading this project and also the College of Business and Economics Advancement Manager, Kerry-Ann Hugo, for facilitating the RSFAS involvement,” he concluded.