Adapting to a more variable climate

Climate variability will increase with climate change.

You can reduce the negative impacts of increasing climate variability through adaptation.

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Making complex decisions about your cropping/livestock business

To adapt to a more variable climate, consider whether you should:

  • change your farming system (crop/livestock)
  • change your approach to sowing
  • change crop types
  • cultivate more/less
  • decrease your stocking rate.

These decisions are complex because of:

  • risk and uncertainty e.g. timing of the autumn break, increased storms
  • unknowns e.g. interactions between increases in carbon dioxide and changes in temperature and rainfall
  • economic considerations e.g. increased labour costs if you change towards livestock
  • social considerations e.g. the prospect of living in a less attractive environment.

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Climate Change and Agriculture in North West Tasmania

Cradle Coast NRM has completed a study into climate change impacts on Tasmanian agricultural production.

The study, funded by the Australian government, has looked into the adaption capacity of different agricultural sectors and possible strategies for adaptation. 

Sixteen fact sheets have been developed to provide practical adaptation strategies for farmers. A single fact sheet is available for each major agricultural activity (AGA) in the Cradle Coast region:

Beef and cattle (494 KB) Berries (934 KB) Canola (589 KB) Cereals (851 KB)
Dairy (717 KB) Horticulture(917 KB) Legumes (828 KB) Nuts (820 KB)
Olives (967 KB) Pome (768 KB) Poppies (615 KB) Potato (830 KB)
Pyrethrum (524 KB) Stone Fruit (688 KB) Vegetables (615 KB) Viticulture (1071 KB)

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Perennial plants profitable for southern Australian producers

Adopting perennial pastures for livestock grazing can improve profitability for stock producers under Australia’s changing climate.

Researchers assessed new perennial pastures as a way for dryland farming systems in southern Australia to adapt to a changing climate.

The project produced maps of southern Australian regions where perennial plants are likely to be most profitable for producers (includes areas of NSW, SA, Vic and WA).

Each map contains information about that region’s climate, growing season and main soil type:

To help you determine the best perennial plant options for your farming system, you can also read:

  • local case studies
  • fact sheets
  • reference documents.

To estimate expected yields under current and predicted future climate scenarios, researchers used biophysical models such as APSIM and Grassgro.

The research was conducted within Future Farm Industries CRC’s EverFarm project - see final report below.

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Climate Change and Viticulture - informing decision-making at a regional level

An information kit has been developed to assist members of the Australian grape growing and wine making industry, understand what climate change may mean for their grape growing region. 

The kit sets out a step-by-step process to evaluate your current regional resources (climate, water, soils, varieties and other natural assets) and assess how they might change – and interact – in the future. 

It does this by helping you answer several basic questions:

  • What have we currently got? ('The Stocktake')
  • What information is needed to assess the potential changes – and where do we get it?
  • Is this information good enough?
  • What’s the level of uncertainty?
  • How do we feed all this into our decision-making?

The kit was developed by the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), as part of a Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) funded project.

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Climate change and the dairy industry - preparing for future climates 

A research project underway at the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC) is aiming to identify farm management responses and innovations that will maintain profitability while building resilience to an increasingly variable climate.

To do this the research team are combining social research and farmer engagement with modelling based on three case study farms across southern Australia - Gippsland (Victoria), Fleurieu Peninsula (South Australia) and Wynyard (Tasmania).

The modelling aims to show what dairy systems could look like up to 2040, how these will perform, and what skills dairy farmers will need to manage their businesses into the future.

For more advice and examples on adaptation options for dairy farmers, go to Dairy Australia's Adapting your farm web page.

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Adapting small, traditional farm resilience for your system

Three key traditional agroecological strategies can be adapted to the design and management of your farm, allowing for a strategy that increases resilience and provides economic benefits, as well as mitigating greenhouse gas emissions:

  • biodiversification: doing intercropping, using polycultures (compared to monocultures) and intensive silvopastoral systems (using fodder shrubs)
  • soil management: adding organic matter to the soil, and managing soil cover
  • water harvesting: harvesting rainwater, dew and flood waters.

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