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Agronomy covers a broad range of disciplines including the study of plants and soil, and management options to optimise production. Agronomy is really about scientific agriculture. The main activity of the Australian Society of Agronomy is to hold a biennial conference, and thus provide a national forum for exchange of ideas and developments in agronomy and related fields. While themes are set by organising committees, contributed papers are diverse, and in this conference the papers range from biotechnology through to extension methodology, however the majority of papers deal with crop and pasture technology.

The theme of the 8th Australian Agronomy Conference, Agronomy - Science with its sleeves rolled up, was chosen to reflect the practical nature of agronomy in dealing with production and environmental issues in Australia Contributions dealing with production, economic and environmental aspects of agricultural management through to the transfer of information to a diverse group of clients were encouraged. The committee provided an option for all contributors to present at least one paper orally as such opportunities are becoming less frequent. A total of 148 oral papers and 119 poster papers are to be presented at the conference and are reported in this publication. Special mention is directed to the editor, Dr M. Asghar, for the tremendous effort in quality control during preparation of these proceedings.

Keynote addresses have been targeted at examining the role of Agronomy in the Australian economy, environmental issues, and improvements in R, D and E. Field tours will focus on the South Burnett, and dryland and irrigated farming systems on the Darling Downs. Higher than average rainfall in the three months preceding the conference will ensure that participants see part of the northern cereal cropping region at its best, after five years of record drought.

The practice of agronomy is seeing many changes, both at the technical and institutional levels. Emergence of new crops, pest and disease issues, changes in crop rotations due to altering price relativities and soil quality decline provide challenges for the scientific community. Changes in the roles of government in research and extension have created uncertainty within traditional provider organisations, but these changes are also creating opportunities for a range of different services for farmers and agri-business. Papers presented within these proceedings, and discussions during the conference, will no doubt provide fodder for thought as well as a reference for current developments in agronomy.

On behalf of the Committee

David Freebairn

President, Australian Society of Agronomy

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