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Abstract

Reduced soil disturbance through farming methods such as no-till and reduced tillage is seen as a key practice change that can lead to greater profitability and sustainability in Australian cropping regions. Grain growers in low rainfall farming systems of the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia are not only interested in reaping private economic benefits, but also in generating public benefits that arise from adopting environmentally friendly farming practices. Hence, the adoption of no-till farming has been steadily increasing over the past decade. The aim of this case study was to compare no-till systems against conventional tillage systems, using physical and socio-economic data collected from a grain cropping farm located on the upper Eyre Peninsula over a five year period. Results for this case study showed that no-till can be profitable with a higher average gross margin ($339/ha/year) than conventional tillage ($321/ha/year). As well there are additional public benefits like soil erosion mitigation, improved air quality, soil moisture retention and an increase in soil biodiversity. Adding these benefits into the analysis gave a Benefit Cost Ratio of 1.14 and a positive Net Present Value of $220/ha for no-till over conventional tillage over five years. This indicates that the perceived benefits (private, public and environmental) of adopting no-till farming are greater than the associated costs and hence profitable and sustainable in the long run.

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