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Integrating financial and environmental data to improve farm business performance : an exploratory analysis of the Tasmanian beef industry


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Gatenby, Sarah 2010 , 'Integrating financial and environmental data to improve farm business performance : an exploratory analysis of the Tasmanian beef industry', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The Tasmanian beef industry is currently under pressure as a result of factors such as
declining terms of trade, increased competition from other enterprises, degradation of
grazing land, drought, and rising costs of inputs to production. These issues significantly
affect the long-term viability of the industry, and highlight the need for improved
understanding of the relationships between agricultural productivity, profitability, and
the biophysical capacity of the land. This thesis considered key productivity and
profitability drivers of beef production in Tasmania through the integration of farm
financial and biophysical data. The aims were:
• To identify the key, factors affecting productivity and profitability of beef
• To examine the utility of Geographical Information System (GIS) and spatial
modelling for analysing and integrating financial and environmental data relevant
to assessing farm business performance
• To use case studies to investigate relationships between farm business
performance and farm biophysical attributes in the beef industry
• To consider GIS and spatial modelling applications that may be suitable for decision
support and scenario analysis in livestock industries.
Farm financial data for the 2006/2007 financial year of 27 beef enterprises were
obtained through a financial benchmarking process. Additional data relating to
enterprise management were also collected using a questionnaire. Biophysical data for
each property were derived using GIS technology. Data from each enterprise were
integrated and statistically analysed to identify correlations between financial
performance and biophysical capacity of the land. To gain an understanding of how well
the enterprises represented the State-wide industry, and to map landscapes suitable for supporting profitable beef enterprises in the state, GIS was also used to characterise the
overall beef industry in Tasmania.
Building on this exploratory analysis, case studies were used to study in more detail the
relationships between financial, biophysical and management data at an enterprise
level. Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics protocols, additional information relating
to management philosophy, environmental assets and natural resource management
was collected for these enterprises. Examining the correlations from the exploratory
analyses, and information from the case studies in conjunction with the landscape
mapping and characterisation of the Tasmanian beef industry, the suitability of this
technique as a decision support and scenario analysis tool was considered.
Analysis of the financial data has shown significant variation in the productivity and
profitability of Tasmanian beef enterprises. Statistical analysis of the financial data with
the biophysical data identified a number of correlations. The proportion of land that is
improved pasture, the proportion of relatively high or low fertility soils and the
efficiency of beef production (Kg/ha) were strongly related to the profitability of an
enterprise. Reduced risk, through increased operating profit margin and reduced cost of
production, were explained in part by increased efficiency of beef production and land
area. Stocking rate was strongly correlated with biophysical attributes that influence
pasture production - in particular, area under irrigation, long term rainfall and air
This project has shown GIS and spatial modelling to be an effective method for
identifying statistically significant biophysical variables that help explain the
performance of beef producing enterprises in Tasmania.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Gatenby, Sarah
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author – The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MAgrSc)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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