Farmers must innovate or risk profits says CSIRO

Australian farmers must continue to adapt to a changing climate or risk seeing their profits halve by 2050, say CSIRO experts.

A new report from Australia’s national science agency has been released after examining what a sustainable future for agriculture looks like.

The Ag2050 Scenarios Report found farm profits could drop by half in some areas by 2050 if producers fail to innovate.

"Australia will need to accelerate the transformation of its current farming systems," it said.

The research examined four potential scenarios of what farming operations could look like by mid-century.

One included landscape stewardship, embracing new opportunities and novel technologies to allow the environment to flourish.

Rose Roche, who heads up the Ag2050 team that led the study, said farm profits had already dropped 23 per cent for some producers in the past two decades.

"The projections have shown that if everything remains the same, then in some areas farm profits could decrease by up to 53 per cent," Dr Roche said.

The modelling shows businesses won't be profitable if farmers fail to innovate as temperatures continue to rise. 

"There's a real sense of urgency but optimism," she told AAP.

CSIRO Futures’ Agriculture and Food lead Katherine Wynn said the report should serve as a call to action for Australian agriculture. 

"Our research offers an optimistic outlook and indicates Australia can achieve productive, sustainable and resilient farming systems if we act now," Dr Wynn said.  

The report was compiled over six months with input from a broad range of stakeholders across 54 agricultural organisations from the dairy industry to wool producers, carbon farmers and government.

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