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Agronomists in Australia can be proud of their achievements. The "sub and super" story, the development of ley farming, implementation of crop rotation strategies, conservation farming adoption, integrated pest management programs, and more recently the widespread application of the water limited potential yield concept and associated monitoring programs such as Topcrop, Meycheck and other "check" systems reflect well on the profession.

Now, however, is not the time for complacency as the challenges are even greater as we move into the new millenium. The world is demanding higher production of food and fibre to feed a population of increasing size at the same time as the community is demanding sustainability of the natural resources from which that food and fibre is produced.

The Committee of the 9th Australian Agronomy Conference determined that the program for the Conference in Wagga Wagga should address this challenge. Under the theme of "Growing a Greener Future", the Conference addresses three imperatives: the environmental imperative or how we continue to produce sustainably; the people imperative or who are the agents of change and how do we achieve the change; and the quality imperative or how we achieve the expectations of the market by applying best practice. As a profession, agronomists have to accept the challenges presented by these imperatives.

As a Society, the ASA has reached 18 years of age. It is now appropriate to reflect on its progress to date and put in place changes it sees fit to ensure its place in the world into the next century. Does it simply want to remain as a biennial conference? Should it develop regional branches similar to the Australian Society of Soil Science? What is its relationship with the Grassland Societies? Should it become an agent of change in influencing national, state and regional policies by aligning itself with the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS)? And what international links should we have? At a time when there is limited vision at the political level and when the education and scientific bases of our society are progressively being dismantled by successive governments, it is probably appropriate that we as professionals should stand up and be counted.

Finally, the Committee hopes that the 9th Australian Agronomy Conference and the Proceedings therefrom provides the necessary stimulus and fulfilment sought by the delegates. I am sure the delegates would wish me to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of its Committee and I express my personal gratitude for their efforts and support.

On behalf of the Management Committee.

Jim Pratley, President
Australian Society of Agronomy
Wagga Wagga, July 1998

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