New agronomy book now available

Reference manual charts how broadacre agriculture has changed in 30 years

Charles Sturt University's Professor Jim Pratley, left, and CSIRO's Dr John Kirkegaard with the new book. PHOTO Emily Malone

Charles Sturt University's Professor Jim Pratley, left, and CSIRO's Dr John Kirkegaard with the new book. PHOTO Emily Malone


New text harnesses conservation agriculture knowledge, challenges and opportunities.


A new book exploring the evolution of Australian farming systems over the past 30 years was launched at the 19th Australian Agronomy Conference held earlier this year at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

The e-book Australian Agriculture in 2020: From Conservation to Automation was edited by Charles Sturt University (CSU) Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley and CSIRO chief research scientist and CSU adjunct professor Dr John Kirkegaard.

Professor Pratley is the plant systems research pathway leader at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, an alliance between CSU and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

He was foundation dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at CSU, president of the Australian Society of Agronomy and was awarded an Australian Society of Agronomy fellowship during 2017.

Professor Pratley said the book charted the changes in Australia's soil management practices and identifies the challenges facing growers in the decades ahead.

"This book celebrates the achievements of agronomy, the research teams, and farmers in transforming our agricultural landscape to one of soil stability," Professor Pratley said.

"It details the changes to farming practice and technology, including new approaches to weed, pest and disease management.

"Our understanding of sustainability has changed over time and the book also looks past 2020 to examine the challenges of climate change and the opportunities presented by digital agriculture and automation."

Dr Kirkegaard is one of Australia's leading agronomists and was elected as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2016. In 2017, he was awarded the Farrer Medal for his contribution to agriculture.

He praised the innovative and resilient spirit of Australian growers and agronomists.

"Farming systems must always evolve to meet emerging challenges, and the book records the success of partnerships between innovative farmers and evidence-based agronomy," he said.

"It also demonstrates the optimism, ideas and emerging technologies that, with sufficient support, will meet the challenges of the future."

The 444-page book includes contributions from 82 research agronomists from across Australia. A contact list of contributors is also included.

The book is free to download by visiting the websites of Agronomy Australia and the Graham Centre.

GRDC Research Code CO1905-002AWX