The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) is a research institute at the University of Tasmania specialising in research, development, extension and education to support prosperous, innovative and sustainable agriculture and food sectors in Tasmania. TIA began in 1997 as a joint venture between the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government, bringing together the human and physical resources of the Tasmanian Government with the scientific research and teaching capacity of the University of Tasmania.
The JM Roberts Charitable Trust was established in 2003 by the late John Roberts with a goal to provide additional funding to support and promote the well-being of our natural environment today and for generations to come.
Specifically, the Trust has a focus in the areas of reducing land and soil degradation, clean waterways, re-vegetation, managing erosion and informing and educating the community and youth on the importance of land care.
2023 Nuffield Scholar
Tasmanian goat, beef farmer to study ways to increase biodiversity in agricultural land
Tasmanian academic turned farmer, Iain Field, will use a Nuffield Scholarship to study how to increase ecological literacy and biodiversity on farms for sustainability. Iain and his wife Kate started their mixed farming operation ‘Leap Farm’ in Copping in the state’s South East, in July 2012.
Supported by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and JM Roberts Charitable Trust, Iain plans to travel across Australia and to New Zealand, UK, France, USA and possibly South America to explore how their agricultural industries support biodiversity.
“There is growing evidence that biodiversity provides crucial services for sustainable farming. The problem with the mechanisation of agriculture and urban shift has resulted in a decrease in ecological literacy of farmers and the general public. We have lost our ability to read the landscape and work with nature, impacting on the intertwined pillars of sustainability,” Iain explains.
“But I also see this as an opportunity – we can enhance farm resilience and sustainability by encouraging farmers to adopt management strategies incorporating biodiversity.”
“Biodiversity is a hot topic, highlighted by its inclusion in the National Farmers' Federation and Meat & Livestock Australia’s 2030 targets, in government policy and investment.”
Iain has done research and collaborated with UTAS and CSIRO, as well as industry groups including the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and Landcare Tasmania. This has allowed the family to start adapting their farm, where they produce beef, goat meat and goat cheese. They sell their produce directly to hospitality, retailers and the public through local farmers markets.
“We store more carbon than we emit, and are starting to understand the co-benefits and trade-offs for resilient and sustainable farming. However, it is clear that there are many different emerging techniques and strategies for adoption and these need to be considered on a site-specific basis.”
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