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Abstract

In the main, Australian agricultural economics has been in the background in the recent trend toward convergence of research and farming practice which has become known as Farming Systems Research (FSR). However, the inherent importance of good economic performance of farms suggests that FSR that is effective in supporting farm management practice might well include economics. There was a time when economics played a dominant role in a direct link between farming and research about farming. This was in the days of a research movement known as Farm Management Research (FMR). Lessons from the subsequent rise and fall of the FMR era seem to have gone largely unnoticed by conventional agricultural research. However, the demise of FMR made some important contributions to the idea and development of the FSR approach in lower-income countries. Maybe it is time to ask if the reports of the death of FMR have been exaggerated, and if within a dynamically evolving FSR, a reinvention of FMR might be desirable and feasible in Australia? This paper examines this possibility. We conclude that there are opportunities to bring economists from the background to the foreground of FSR by using ‘hard systems’ tools, such as systems simulation, in new ways through participatory action research

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