Peri-Urban Agriculture

The Hawkesbury campus is a best practice example of peri-urban landscape management, with an embedded commercial farm operation reflecting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.


Key Strategies Emerging

The Hawkesbury Farm utilised recycled water as a sustainable resource to irrigate pasture production supporting a self-reproducing
commercial and stud cattle herd.

Management Initiatives Underway

Soil health is supported by amendment with composted organic fertiliser, with minimal tillage to reduce impacts on soil structure. A
mixed pasture ecology of grasses and clovers self-seed, supporting persistence of key species and seasonal dynamics.

Grazing management ensures soil cover is maintained and mulched. The grazing operation is undertaken as a commercial activity with best practice drivers including stud genetics for Angus and Limousin cattle.

Related Living Lab Initiatives

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (SAFS) Program in the School of Science and Health is being redesigned, with
close collaboration between OEC staff and senior SAFS staff. The Hawkesbury Farm continues to be utilised for teaching, research and demonstration relating to peri-urban land management and water recycling, soil health and pasture ecology, and animal production and husbandry.

Strategic collaboration is developing as a Centre of Excellence in Peri-Urban Futures with Richmond TAFE and the future agricultural school. This includes precinct resource sharing and educational pathways along with a focus on collaboration and innovation.

Compliance Requirements and Risk

Commercial animal production and husbandry is required to be undertaken in a manner consistent with:

  • Biosecurity regulations and procedures
  • Industry animal welfare guidelines
  • Work Health and Safety

Standard Western work health and safety and risk management processes are well established for both farm  operations and visitors.

Trends and Interdependencies

Resilience of the commercial operation are dependent upon the mix of best practice production and husbandry, underpinned by appropriate use of recycled water to supplement the rain-fed agricultural system. Climate change and variable rainfall have a clear impact on agricultural systems.


2020Hawkesbury green/food waste for soil conditioner, demonstrated best practice
2025Demonstrated carbon neutral, Centre of Excellence Living Lab
2030Best practice resource for teaching and advocacy

Initiatives and Case Studies

Centre of Excellence in Peri-Urban Futures

Hawkesbury Farm is now a showpiece of commercial and sustainable agriculture, consistent with current interest in regenerative
agricultural practices. The resources associated with the farm are a key component of the development of the educational precinct as a “Centre of Excellence in Peri-Urban Futures”.

Collaboration involves Western’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program, Richmond TAFE’s agri-industry skills courses,
and the Department of Education’s Centre of Excellence - Richmond Agricultural College for primary and secondary school engagement.

Living Labs and Hawkesbury Farm

The Hawkesbury Show Team is a student-led initiative with participation managed through peer mentoring by Animal Science and
SAFS students. A developing theme in the new teaching program is Precision Agriculture with ‘The Yield’, an IoT application for providing real time and predictive data on soil conditions and local weather. Another key initiative with Western’s Chinese Medicine Centre and SAFS is the growth of Chinese Medicinal Herbs.

Hawkesbury Farm. © JKphotography

SDGs 2, 3, 4,13, 15, 17