Sustainable Farms

The world's greatest challenge is to feed its rapidly growing population using farming practices that not only restore a rapidly degrading environment but also promote the financial viability, mental health and wellbeing of primary producers. No other country faces this challenge more than Australia.

About Sustainable Farms

For two decades, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have collected data from hundreds of farms across South-Eastern Australia as part of one of the largest, long-term studies of its kind in the world. The knowledge generated from this research can now be used to help Australian farmers improve their land management practices amidst the mounting challenges they face. These findings provide anecdotal evidence that as well as restoring land, improved environmental management precipitates increased farm productivity, farm profitability and improved farmer mental health.

ANU long-term ecology

Many of our farmers have credited the adoption of more sustainable farming practices to surviving the Millennium Drought and improving their profitability. Further, testimonials from farmers and their partners demonstrate that the increased presence of vegetation, tree cover, greener pastures and bird calls, has improved their mental health, sense of wellbeing and pride in what they do.

Sustainable Farms expands on ecological research at ANU and includes financial and mental health research designed to formally identify and characterise the relationships between improved environmental management of agricultural land, farm profitability and the mental health of farmers.

The project will ensure farmers are properly educated on the environmental, financial and mental health benefits of adopting sustainable farming and in doing so, promote the uptake of sustainable farming practices.


Our mission is to create a sustainable future for Australian farmers by building on 20 years of ecological research in agricultural landscapes to better understand the relationship between environmental management, farm profitability and farmer mental health.


  1. Create an influential and engaging farms-based outreach and extension program to increase the engagement, awareness and/or adoption of sustainable farming practices.
  2. Facilitate growth of our Farmer Network, and to directly address natural asset degradation on farms, Sustainable Farms will expand our existing formal partnerships with Local Land Services in NSW and CMAs in Victoria as well as other natural resource management (NRM) organisations to assist farmers in the project region to enhance their natural assets.
  3. Enable research innovation and delivery through data sharing and co-design of ecological, financial and mental health research, followed by new sustainability research designed in partnership with industry, philanthropy and government.
  4. Lead a program of research translation activities to influence programs and policies of key institutions and industry groups to support sustainable farming practices.
  5. Undertake strategic planning and develop sound policies and procedures to ensure effective governance and successful implementation.


Sustainable Farms is led by a cross-disciplinary research team from ANU under the project direction of Michelle Young.

Our Research Directors include:

Supporting partners

Major partners include:

  • The Ian Potter Foundation
  • The Vincent Family Fairfax Foundation
  • The Calvert-Jones Foundation
  • Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)

Information for Farmers

If you would like to work with Sustainable Farms to make improvements to natural assets on your property visit