This paper reports on the use and effectiveness of two tools used for the ex-ante evaluation of a suite of crop-livestock farming-systems R&D (research and development) projects proposed for Australian grain-growing districts. The focus is on determining the value of two tools developed for this purpose-a bio-economic whole-farm analysis tool (BENEFIT) and an adoption and diffusion prediction tool (ADOPT). Designed to be used by researchers, project managers, extension agents and research, development and extension managers, ADOPT predicts speed and extent of adoption, while BENEFIT models physical and financial effects of the practice change on the farm. The tools were used as a prerequisite to the approval of R, D & E projects seeking funding from a new round of Australia's Grain and Graze program. Each tool provides information that is useful for making decisions about investments in agricultural R, D & E that is not easily obtainable by other means.The benefits of the ex-ante evaluation processes were that those proposing and delivering the projects learnt more about the drivers of project impact. The results of the study show that, when used together, these tools can lead to better investment decisions and project-level delivery strategies, particularly where impact is highly dependent on participatory and local, context-specific delivery.