THE days of Australia riding on the sheep's back will be a mere memory by 2050, it has been claimed.
This is according to Landmark sales and marketing general manager David Timmel, who said the wool industry will be a boutique industry within 40 years.
Mr Timmel said Australian agricultural production would firmly centre on grain and meat production, to service the biggest population growth area in the world - Asia.
"Cereals and meat will be the two dominant industries in 2050," he said. "Wool will be very much a boutique industry."
Speaking at the Grains Growers Association's forum for young people in agriculture held at Albury last week, Mr Timmel predicted that much of Australia's energy needs would come from renewable sources, while agriculture would be part of a carbon trading system and irrigated farming was likely to be left to a handful of efficient rural businesses.
In response to the enormous levels of capital that would be needed to run a farm, there would be a greater shift to corporate ownership of land.
As a member of a panel forecasting the future of farming by 2050, Mr Timmel said that as cities became larger, irrigation water would be diverted away from rural regions to urban areas.
"Only the highly efficient irrigated farms will remain," he said.
Another panel member, Grains Research and Development Corporation climate change project manager Sara Hely, told the 170 farmers and agribusiness employees at the conference that there was likely to be mandated use of renewable energy and international agreements to mitigate climate change by 2050.
"There is probably going to be a strong commitment (by world governments) to keep global temperature increases to two degrees (celcius)," Dr Hely said.
"Beyond that, you will get serious climate change."
Victorian Farmers Federation grains group senior vice-president Andrew Weidemann told the forum farmers were likely to see more regulation in 40 years' time, particularly relating to safer workplaces.
Mr Weidemann said would also be fewer farmers in Australia, which was likely to have a social impact on rural regions.