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Preparing Australian dairy businesses for extreme and more variable climates - a research project integrating economic, biophysical and social aspects


Hayman, G and Harrison, M and Cullen, B and Ayre, M and Armstrong, D and Mason, W and Rawnsley, R and Nettle, R and Beilin, R and Waller, S and Phelps, C, Preparing Australian dairy businesses for extreme and more variable climates - a research project integrating economic, biophysical and social aspects, Livestock, Climate Change and Food Security 2014, 19-20 May 2014, Madrid, Spain (2014) [Conference Extract]

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The Australian dairy industry has put significant e ort into exploring the potential impacts of climate change, however four key limitations remain:
1. Climate change is only one of many drivers that influence the dairy business, other economic and social drivers must also be considered in any system analysis.
2. Current (rather than future) farming systems have been ëtested’ using predicted future climates.
3. Average predicted changes in temperature and rainfall is the focus of most research. The challenge to farming businesses is the impact of extremes, increased variability, the sequencing of climate events and the emergence of tipping points and/or unexpected vulnerabilities.
4. Strategies to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change have not been cross matched to understand the trade-o s and impacts on other business risks within the whole farm system.
To inform future investment it is critical that the Australian dairy industry fully explores the impacts of climate extremes and a more variable climate. Using three dairy businesses in diff ering regions, a range of farm development options will be explored - some options will push the boundaries of current farming practice, but all will retain economic and social reality. Biophysical and economic modelling, social research and farmer engagement will assist to identify farm management responses that make economic sense and build human and biophysical capability to manage a more challenging future.
The project examines:
1. Trade-o s between profitability, risk, social impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with realistic farm development options across farming systems.
2. Potential impacts of climate variability and extreme events on economic, biophysical and social aspects of farm development options.
3. Management options that provide the most eff ective adaptation and mitigation outcomes.
4. Skills and industry support systems required to build capacity to respond, considering the reduced decision making capacity that accompanies increased uncertainty.
Preliminary research demonstrates that increased periods of drought as well as more intense rainfall events will reduce median pasture production by up to 31% in Southern Australia, whereas more frequent exposure to heat waves will reduce pasture and milk production by as much as 28% and 20%, respectively. The combined e ffect of extended periods of drought, more intense rainfall events, longer heat waves and increased frequencies of hot days will reduce pasture production by up to 36%. Future work will examine how these impacts influence the temporal sequence of annual farm revenue and possible social consequences of risk perception and farm adaptation to extreme climatic events.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:dairy, business, climate change, adaptation, greenhouse gas, mitigation
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Agriculture, land and farm management
Research Field:Sustainable agricultural development
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)
UTAS Author:Harrison, M (Associate Professor Matthew Harrison)
UTAS Author:Rawnsley, R (Dr Richard Rawnsley)
ID Code:90606
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2014-04-14
Last Modified:2014-04-14
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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