Using as a study region the central wheatbelt of Western Australia, this thesis examines labour demand for sheep and cropping during an average production year in different farming systems under a range of scenarios of labour cost and availability. The impacts of these scenarios on farming system profits and enterprise selection are examined using the bio-economic farm model MIDAS (Model of an Integrated Dryland Agricultural System). Labour requirements for sheep are found to be far greater than those for cropping. Additionally the labour requirements for sheep are found to be high in all production periods. By contrast cropping has infrequent peak labour requirements mostly at seeding and harvest. This means that the most profitable farm labour option is found to be employing casual labour to accommodate these periods of peak demand in cropping. The lesser relative profitability of the sheep enterprise makes employing a permanent worker the least profitable labour option. Employing casual labour during busy periods for cropping is more profitable but it is also associated with only small areas of perennial pastures being sown which has environmental implications. The logistics of employing labour at only certain times of the year, compared to employing a full time worker, means that farmers need to pay more per week to employ these seasonal workers or do the extra work themselves. Additionally, outsourcing sheep management is only more profitable than other labour options if the efficiency of cropping is improved due to more of the farmer’s time being freed for cropping activity. This investigation of labour and the various options related to labour management highlight the importance of labour for Western Australian mixed sheep and crop farms.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2011|