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Abstract

Organic wheat farmers in Australia face a number of unique challenges, and an in-depth understanding of these challenges is an important first step for government agencies, universities and other groups interested in promoting organic agriculture. This research was designed to develop a qualitative understanding of the biggest transition, cultivation, market and other issues faced by organic wheat farmers in Australia. Data gathering was conducted with a series of one-to-one interviews. The top challenge identified was rain, water availability and soil moisture. This challenge places unique risks on organic farmers because of additional cultivation cycles and subsequent delayed seeding. A second key issue was weed management, with particularly tough issues found during the initial transition years. The third top issue was soil fertility, which together with weeds, was identified as a key factor limiting wheat yields. Top requests from organic wheat farmers were for more organic crop research centres, greater promotion and visibility for organic grain growing, and a small transition-to-organic subsidy.

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