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A comparison of farming systems

I.N. Grierson, P. Ninnes, C. Penfold

National Key Centre for Dryland Agriculture and Land Use Systems,
University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy SA 5371

Alternative farming systems, including organic, biodynamic and transitional systems, offer the potential to regenerate farmland, maintain or improve productivity and improve the quality of agricultural produce (1). The aims of this trail, which is one of only two long-term broadacre experiments in a Mediterranean climate investigating this problem, include development of non-chemical weed control strategies, determination of the substainability of organic farming systems and evaluation of the effects of biodynamic microbial activators.


The four treatments (Table 1) are managed by an advisory committee made up of the major organic and biodynamic farming interests in South Australia assisted by CSIRO and the SA Department of Agriculture. The rotations and treatments were chosen to optimise the attributes of each farming system with the only constraint requiring that all treatments be planted to wheat in 1992.

Table 1. Farming Systems Rotations - following volunteer pasture for all paddocks (1988).

The experiment is a replicated randomised block using 2-ha plots. Measurements of soil structure, soil nutrients, organic carbon, earthworm populations, mycorrhizal infection and soil biomass levels are being carried out. An economic analysis is also being conducted. At the end of 1992 what quality will be assessed by a range of quality criteria including nutritive value, chemical and heavy metal residues and baking qualities.

Results and discussion

It is intended to develop practical management strategies for farmers including the non- chemical control of weeds. At the completion of the project, an economically viable and ecologically sound farming system may be recommended for the southern cereal-livestock zone.


This project is funded by the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corpora- tion (formerly NSCP) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.


9. Conacher, A. and Conacher, J. 1982. Geowest No. 18, University of Western Australia.

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