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This assessment of research and extension in conservation farming in northern NSW was done as part of a systematic process of evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts of major research, extension and education programs. The conservation farming program was a key area of investment by NSW Agriculture and an evaluation process fulfils accountability and resource allocation requirements. This analysis evaluates the investments by the former NSW Agriculture in conservation farming and reduced tillage programs from the late 1970s to 2002. The benefit-cost ratios (BCR) for no till only and no till plus reduced tillage practices up to 2002 were 4.1:1 and 9:1, respectively. The net present values (NPV) of the benefits from these efforts up to 2002 were $78 and $205 million, respectively. When program activities are extended to 2020 the BCRs were 11.4:1 and 20.5:1 and the NPVs were $302 million and $568 million, respectively. There are likely to be other benefits such as environmental benefits of reduced soil erosion (and reduced infrastructure remediation costs) and improved soil structure. Without the RD&E programs of NSW Agriculture and other agencies the slower growth in productivity is likely to have retarded farm and industry profitability, with associated effects on industry and community strength.


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