Sustainable primary production

Sustainable primary production is one of four socially based conceptual models that describe how people interact with managing natural resources. They should be considered in association with the three conceptual models that broadly focus on the biophysical systems to get a full picture of what we know about our region.

View the sustainable primary production model.

About sustainable primary production

The region supports a diverse range of primary industries, in particular cropping (cereal), perennial and annual horticulture, viticulture, grazing, dairy and forestry. Pressures on sustainable and profitable primary production have seen supporting and value-adding industries becoming increasingly important to the sector.

Natural resources underpin productivity. It is critical that the natural resources base is protected to maintain and increase primary and food production in the region. Potential impacts of inappropriate primary production include erosion, salinity and loss of soil structure. As well as impacting on natural resources, these can also limit farm production.

The links between environmental degradation and farm productivity in many instances are not clear; however, sustainable primary production relies in part on a healthy natural resources base, and in turn profitable primary production businesses are able to invest in the good management of natural resources.

Social and economic influences can often be immediately critical to maintaining profitable primary production businesses, and are therefore often given a higher priority, because they impact on day to day business. This focus has the potential to lead to poor NRM outcomes with consequences for individual properties, and the wider landscape.

It is therefore critical to understand the links between profitable and sustainable primary production: the natural resources of the region must be improved to better support a sector that has significant ability to influence NRM outcomes for the region.

A case study: Increasing farm resilience through sustainable land management

Agriculture is a significant contributor to the state’s economy, and the sustainability of individual farm businesses and industries as a whole is improved with the good management of natural resources. Sustainable primary production is supported by an understanding of the links between financial viability and sustainable management of resources, and the pressures outside an individual’s sphere of influence.

This case study focusses on identifying good resource management practices that contribute positively to the economic viability of farm businesses in the Barossa Valley.

The project first identified aspects of land management that negatively impacted on a business’ performance and the condition of natural resources, and then identified what could be done to address those threats. It is trialling new and innovative practices and communicating the results throughout the community. The management responses implemented so far have improved the condition of natural resources and had positive impacts on farm profitability.


Based on the information collected during a regional planning process and a range of projects that the board has undertaken, a draft list of issues has been developed. This list is constantly evolving. Issues will be added as they become apparent, and as issues are addressed by projects, they will drop off the list. Go to the list of issues regarding sustainable primary production.

Related links

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges