Sustainable Farming


The continuing supply of quality food and fibre is the most fundamental need of all human societies across the globe. From the beginnings of human society, urban consumers have expected farmers to produce quality products at an affordable price. Commonly, the prices received by farmers are a fraction of the price paid by consumers. At times, these farm-gate prices are insufficient to allow the full costs of production (including environmental and social costs) to be met. The challenge for agribusiness and government is to develop value chains from farm to plate that provide appropriate reward for each link, are socially responsible, and maintain or enhance the agricultural, value-adding and consumer environments.

The University of New England is committed to a more sustainable future, and developing graduates who can successfully balance the needs of society, the economy and environment in meeting the food and fibre needs of a rapidly changing planet.

Why Study Sustainable Farming at UNE?

For over 50 years, the University of New England has been teaching and researching in the area of sustainable farming and related areas of farm management economics, and for the past 35 years in regional resource management. The pioneering teaching and research into agricultural ecosystems by Prof. Bill McClymont and his colleagues has continued on through a range of courses and units where students gain a firm grasp of the many technological, economic, social and environmental interactions and dependencies within our complex food and fibre production systems.


AGRO100 - Agriculture in Practice
AGRO211 - Identification and Adaptation of Agricultural Plants
AGRO223 - Agricultural Ecology and Crop Physiology
AGRO311 - Plant Protection
AGRO321 - Crop Production
AGRO422/522 - Integrated Weed Management
AGRO514 - Plant Biosecurity
AGSY300 - Grazing Systems
AGSY410 - Problem Solving in Farm Systems
AGSY430 - International Agricultural Systems 
ANPR211 - Animal Production Systems and Products
ANSC120 - Animals in Society
COTT300/400/500 - Applied Cotton Production
COTT301/ 401 /501 - Cotton Crop Protection
COTT202/302/402 - Cotton and the Environment
COTT203/303/403 - Cotton Farm Systems and Technology Transfer
ECON223 - Farm and Resource Management
GRNS300/400/500 - Agronomy of Grains Production
GRNS301/ 401 /501 - Grain Crop Protection
RSNR110 - Sustaining our Rural Environment I
RSNR120 - Sustaining our Rural Environment II
RSNR303/403/503 - Sustainable Land Management
SOIL222/ 422 - Soil Science
SOIL311/511 - Productive Soil Systems


Studying units which have a focus on sustainable farming will equip you to better cope with the ever-changing demands of farming in the 21st century. The need for farming to be profitable whilst conserving and enhancing the natural-resource base, and sustaining farming families and local and regional communities, poses big challenges. There is an increasing need for graduates to have sensitivity to and knowledge of these challenges that exist in real farming situations and how these issues might be dealt with more sustainably.

Many employers have stated their need for graduates with good communication and problem-solving skills. This is especially the case in complex areas such as sustainable agriculture and resource management. You will gain knowledge of precision agriculture and skills in the use of computer-based decision support tools which are vital for understanding the impacts of climate variability.

Careers include

  • Support of farming enterprises through rural extension services, local land services, applied research, consulting and agribusiness firms.
  • Working within catchments to advise on more sustainable soil, water and vegetation management.
    Employment by banks that lend to farmers and therefore need graduates with appropriate knowledge and skills.
  • Going back to the farm and putting into practice your knowledge of how to farm more $u$tainably.
  • Working in the industries which support farming such as plant breeding, seed production, fertiliser sales, irrigation practices, tillage equipment, precision agriculture, remote sensing, etc.
  • Caring for the environment by working with agencies that are learning to better manage soil acidity, soil salinity, soil erosion, weed invasions, biodiversity etc.
  • Working with and for farmer groups to enhance their capacity to deal with the latest technologies and the ever-changing environmental management challenges.
Partnerships, Networks and Industry Links

Cooperative Research Centres

Among the seven Cooperative Research Centres in which the University has been and is a partner, two are based in Armidale, while one was based in Armidale until its term recently ended. Those concerned principally with plant, soil and water issues include the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC (term ended in 2012), the CRC for Irrigation Futures (term ended in 2010), the Viticulture CRC (term ended in 2007) and the CRC for Spatial Information. Those concerned with livestock include the Beef Genetics Technologies CRC (term ended in 2012), the Poultry CRC and the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation.

Affiliated Centres

The University also has a number of affiliated Research Centres whose activities complement the area of Sustainable Farming. They include:

Collaborating agencies

The University is also closely associated with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, including the Beef Industry Centre, the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit and the Primary Industries Innovation Centre. Other significant relationships exist with CSIRO and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Staff have worked with a wide range of agencies and collaborators including:

Regional natural resource management (NRM) organisations

With the establishment of Local Land Services (LLSs) and equivalent regional NRM bodies throughout Australia, UNE has been quick to form strong collaborations in research, extension and training with many LLSs and equivalent inter-state bodies.

Funding agencies

We acknowledge the following funding bodies/agencies for their past and/or current support of our research activities:


UNE maintains a wide array of rural properties close to the campus at Armidale and also a beef feedlot at Kingston (Tullimba'). Overall, some 4500 ha is managed by the University. Students frequently visit these facilities – some are even within walking distance of the main campus.

The University has a state of the art glasshouse complex, opened in early 2009.


For information on our research activities, please visit the pages of the Sustainable Farming group.


For general and administrative enquiries, AskUNE.

For further information about studying Sustainable Farming at UNE:

Associate Professor Chris Guppy
Phone: +61 2 6773 3567