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Land and Water Australia's Contribution to Australia

Land & Water Australia addresses the challenges of managing Australia’s land and water resources through an integrated portfolio of research investments focused on productivity growth balanced with sustainability.

Working in partnerships with industry, universities and CSIRO, Land & Water Australia (LWA) has been quietly making our food production systems safer and more environmentally friendly since 1990. 

Land & Water Australia’s achievements include:

Land & Water Australia is one of 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations established by the then Minister for Agriculture, John Kerin, in the Hawke government, but is the only one focussed on public good sustainability research. For 19 years LWA has been equipping Australia’s farmers with the best available science and technology to manage our soil, water and vegetation. 

Over the past 10 years, LWA has managed to more than double the $13 million a year it gets from the Government. This has been achieved through partnerships with the wool, meat, cotton, dairy and other industries to build the biggest applied environmental research portfolio in Australia. The relevance of LWA’s research and its strong focus on managing knowledge for adoption is highlighted by the return Australia receives on its investment in LWA: using conservative assumptions, an independent study in 2006 by consultants Agtrans found that LWA had delivered $4.80 in direct economic benefits for each government dollar invested, equating to an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) exceeding 24%. 

Land & Water Australia’s suite of programs has been addressing productivity growth balanced with sustainable land and water management. Managing Climate Variability, Weeds Research and Knowledge Exchange and the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation place equal emphasis on sustainable resource use and improved productivity. As well as the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation and Managing Climate Variability, three additional programs focus on water availability, allocation and use, Environmental Water Allocation, Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge and Social and Institutional Research. The National Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries (CCRSPI) is taking national leadership in adapting Australian farmers to climate change, while the Native Vegetation and Biodiversity program is the longest running national program with a focus on landscape and regional scale approaches to managing our native vegetation. All of these programs are supported by the Innovation program that invests in innovative research and training across the entire portfolio, and the Social and Institutional Research Program that invests in better approaches to social and institutional management of land and water resources.


Australia’s system of joint government and industry investment in rural innovation (totalling about $500 million per year) has been envied throughout the OECD since it was introduced in the late 1980s. It is a uniquely Australian solution to the market failure inherent in a sector made up about 130,000 individual farm businesses that lack the economy of scale to support their own research. A recent Productivity Commission report suggested that if there is a flaw in the model, it is that Australia is not investing enough in public good R&D. The report identified Land & Water Australia’s portfolio of significant public good research as an area where there are “strong grounds for large public subsidies [to] remain because that research is unlikely to take place in their absence.” 

Land & Water Australia’s operations will cease on 30 June 2009. This will involve the cancellation of a large number of contracts with university-based and other researchers across Australia, closing down many partly completed research projects.


Land & Water Australia. 2009. Land and Water Australia's Contribution to Australia. [Online] (Updated October 14th, 2009)
Available at: [Accessed Tuesday 22nd of October 2013 08:37:26 AM ].

id: 3710 / created: 07 October, 2009 / last updated: 14 October, 2009