Preparing farmers in the Coal River valley for climate change

Project Information

Funded by : DAFF Australia’s Farming Future-FarmReady Program - $221,114

Objective : A climate change modelling audit will ascertain effects and risks, followed by farm level audits of physical / human resources and enterprise issues. A subsequent training needs analysis will determine an education program for delivery to promote awareness and enhance knowledge about adaptation techniques and coping strategies, identifying best practice “champions” along the way.

Methods : This is an integrated three stage approach to identify and deal with climate change adaptation issues. - The first stage built on existing climate change patterns knowledge. - The second was an audit of farms and sectors to see how each was positioned for climate adaptation. - The third was a training program developed in response to this.

Project Team : Professor Roger Stone (University of Southern Queensland), Professor Nathan Bindoff (Leader of the Climate Futures for Tasmania Project) http://www.acecrc.org.au/cms/About%20ACE/Our%20People/Program%20Leaders Serve-Ag Pty Ltd Tasmania http://www.serve-ag.com.au/head-office/w1/i1001343/, Coal River Products Association, Enterprise Innovations.(www.enterpriseinnovations.com.au)

Project Duration : 2010-2012

Contact : The Secretary E-mail: [email protected]

Project Details

Project Details The Climate Change modelling exercise has been undertaken by the University of Southern Queensland under the direction of one of Australia’s leading climate change researchers, Professor Roger Stone. USQ has worked closely with the Climate Futures for Tasmania project, using some of the project’s data sets.

Activities have included: - Collection of key climate data observed for a number of sites in the Coal River Valley area. - Characterising historical climate and hydrological trends (stream flows) using observed data. - Use of Climate Futures for Tasmania downscaled climate projections for Coal River Valley, generating improved understanding of future climate change impact on key climate variables.

Some general conclusions were that temperature projections from all five ‘more suitable’ GCM models utilised and analysed suggest an increase in regional maximum and, especially minimum temperatures, for this catchment over the scenario periods. Outputs from the models selected are generally consistent in suggesting mean maximum temperature over the region is likely to increase by 1.0°C - 1.2°C for the period 2010-2030. The modelling outputs for rainfall suggest potential for an increase in rainfall through January-March-April but, conversely, for a potential likely decrease in precipitation for the May through November period when the overall outputs are considered.

The combined impacts of increasing temperature, potential increases in evapotranspiration, and possible reduction in winter rainfall may impose a strain on already stretched water resources in the Coal River catchment during that period. Streamflow projections suggests enhanced summer (January-March) flow but reduced winter (July to September) flow with implications for water storage management and value to growers and producers.

The reduction in rainfall in late autumn through to early summer together with projected increase in minimum temperature has implications for cropping systems in Coal River Catchment, particularly for horticultural crops, but possibly with windows of opportunities for summer cropping systems.

These findings are still preliminary and, as the modelling is very complex, we should not draw definitive answers but more the identification of important points for discussion and investigation. The results have assisted our auditing of farms and enterprises by focusing on possible future scenarios.

A multi-disciplinary team led by Tasmanian company Serve-Ag devised an innovative, practical and informative farm auditing process covering the physical, social and economic components of the farm.

As an example analysis of the four broad acre farmer interviews indicated that the four enterprises had similar themes. These included: - Concerns for the economic situation of farming into the future and rising costs of production; - Flexibility of mixed farming systems was considered as a strength heading to the future; and - All farmers felt that their investment in irrigation infrastructure has been a major adaptation strategy that they have already undertaken which will enable them to adapt to future climate change scenarios.

The subsequent training program coordinated by Serve-Ag will cover 10 workshops with some 5 already conducted. the training workshops are being well attended. These are as wide ranging as: - Understanding Weather and Climate - Managing Carbon for Agriculture - Managing Soils – “The most valuable asset on your farm” - Integrated Pest Management Strategies – weeds, insects and diseases. - Energy, water and production efficiency.

The project is managed on behalf of CRPA by Enterprise Innovations through their Hobart based Senior Associate Tim Mangan.

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