In the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges and the Murray Darling Basin regions it is reasonably common for agricultural land size to be smaller (i.e. between 10 and 50 ha). A relaxed lifestyle and escape from urban life are major reasons for owning or leasing smaller land sizes, and rate over and above work purposes and affordability of living according to the project survey targeted at landholders in peri urban regions (n = 200). Land size and stocking rate are considerable factors that can inhibit farmers from improving profit (Hooper, 2002). There are opportunities to improve productivity and sustainability of the natural resource base by increasing a property’s scale by increasing the land size or carrying capacity managed by a farmer or collection of farmers through collaborative farm management.
Funding was provided by the Adelaide Mt Lofty Natural Resource Management Board and the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board to gain an understanding of how changing a property’s scale through three collaborative farm management approaches may influence economic costs and gains, an individual’s time input, landholder knowledge and skill, property maintenance, and coordinator costs.
The two case study properties were used to gain data and insights including:
1. a 40 ha cattle grazing property at lower Inman Valley in the south-eastern Mt Lofty ranges
2. a 40 ha sheep property at Finniss in the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges.
The collaborative farm models investigated include:
• Model 1: Individual small property management model
• Model 2: Lease farm model
• Model 3: Collective broker model
• Model 4: Collaborative farm management model.
The initial model farm performance was demonstrated using the Grass Gro Model (Moore et al. 1997) and simulated over a 10-year cycle. The economic costs and gains of each model per case study are shown in spreadsheets in the report. Economic key performance indicators (KPIs) produced by Meat and Livestock Australia were used to compare and contrast each of the 4 models x 2 case studies. These KPIs provide a thorough insight into the economic performance of each model
The report can be used to better understand the requirements of collaborative farming. It can be used as a basis to start discussion amongst smaller landholders on the requirements needed for each of the models, including economics, knowledge, time, coordinator considerations, and business structure. People to target for this discussion could include part-time farmers, ageing farmers, those who have owned land between 0 and 5 years as per Appendix 2, those who are part of a farm group, or any who struggle to keep up with natural resources and everyday farm management.
There is a list of consultants who can help start the discussion with producers and landholders at the end of the report.