Sustainable Farms


For twenty years, scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) have collected data about biodiversity and ecology from hundreds of farms in inland Victoria, New South Wales and south-east Queensland (Australia's eastern wheat-sheep belt). This continuing monitoring is one of the largest, long-term studies of its kind.

Building on this knowledge base, the Sustainable Farms initiative includes financial and mental health information on farmers to investigate whether improving a farm's biodiversity also improves a farm's profitability and farmers' well-being and mental health.

We believe this to be the case - based on narratives from farmers we have worked with over many years - but further research is needed to quantify, demonstrate, and understand these links.

Many of our farmers have credited their adoption of more sustainable farming practices to surviving the Millennium Drought and improving their profitability. Furthermore, they say that having more vegetation, tree cover, greener pastures and bird calls has boosted their sense of wellbeing, pride in what they do and mental health.

Learn more about the Sustainable Farms project at our full website:

Sustainable Farms is translating this research into:

  • tools that farmers can use to more sustainably manage their farms and natural assets, and
  • information that policy makers, educators and industry can use to support sustainable agriculture in Australia.

Sustainable Farms has four core programs

  1. A Farmer Network delivered by field ecologists, agronomists and extension officers who have long-standing relationships with farmers and expertise in agricultural science, biodiversity, restoration ecology and communication. These field staff are located in regional Australia.

    The Farmer Network conducts on-farm surveys, Field Days and other informative events.
  2. A cross-disciplinary Research Program, delivered by world-leading specialists in ecology and biodiversity, economics, finance and mental health.
  3. A Communications and Strategic Engagement Program, delivered by specialists in science communication and industry and government agricultural and environmental policy.
  4. A Project Management and Evaluation Program, delivered by specialists in agricultural and environmental policy and natural resource management program delivery and evaluation.


Sustainable Farms' mission

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.

 Brief overview of Sustainable Farms [5.5 mins]

Farmers and landholders

If you would like to know more about Sustainable Farms, nominate your farm to become one of our Demonstration Farms, join the Farmer Network, or work with us to improve the natural assets on your property, please contact:

Learn more about sustainable farming at:


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

Sustainable Farms thanks our major partners:

  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • The Ian Potter Foundation
  • The Calvert-Jones Foundation.