The University of Western Australia and a group of leading international organisations has agreed to work towards developing a plan for the sustainable management of ruminant livestock through a global network of model farms known as the ‘Global Farm Platform'.
The Statement of Intent was developed by delegates representing ten universities and three research agencies at an intensive, week-long Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) workshop held in Perth.
The statement outlines a plan to use the Platform to enable multidisciplinary collaboration across a wide range of cultural, socioeconomic and climatic zones, to develop solutions to the challenges confronting sustainable ruminant production on a global scale.
UWA's Farm Ridgefield, located near Pingelly, is one of the model farms in the Global Farm Platform network.
Winthrop Professor Graeme Martin, from UWA's Institute of Agriculture and School of Animal Biology, who coordinated the WUN workshop, said that whole-farm models are needed in order to answer big questions about the sustainability of agriculture, food production and the future of humanity.
"Only by studying the behaviour of the whole production system, including total inputs, total outputs and productivity over a sufficiently long time can we eliminate unintended consequences such as intolerable levels of soil degradation, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss," Professor Martin said.
Research platforms such as UWA's Farm Ridgefield provide the long-term data and the global network ensures the widest possible translation of research to determine the most effective change in management practices."
Earlier this year the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) acknowledged the importance of the UWA Farm Ridgefield and has included the farm in its directory of best practice models in grassland, rangeland and pastoral management.
"The challenges for future farming are complex. UWA is committed to researching solutions for this region that have a global application, using local resources, local breeds and local feedstock," UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Johnson said.
It is only by producing this tangible evidence on real-world commercial farms such as UWA Farm Ridgefield that we will convince local farmers to adopt the research."
UWA is the first university to sign the Global Farm Platforms for Sustainable Ruminant Livestock Statement of Intent.
Winthrop Professor Graeme Martin (UWA Institute of Agriculture and School of Animal Biology) (+61 8) 6488 6781 / (+61 4) 08 951 052
David Stacey (UWA Media Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716