Crop and Pasture Science
Volume 63 Number 3 2012
CCRSPI Conference Synthesis Papers
Livestock producers in Australia, already operating in the most variable climate in the world, face a future that is predicted to be warmer and even more extreme. What do we know about the impacts of climate change on animals and their feed, and about reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced from manure and animal digestion? Answering these questions is critical as the demand for meat, milk, wool and other animal products continues to grow with an expanding and more affluent world population.
CP11196Climate change through the farming systems lens: challenges and opportunities for farming in Australia
Australian farming systems such as low rainfall cropping or cool climate wine production are defined in part by climate. It stands to reason that if climate changes that farming systems will have to adapt or shift. This paper uses a farming systems perspective to examine the physical challenges of climate change along with the policy imperative for Australian agriculture to assist in the reduction of greenhouse gasses.
Climate change poses a range of challenges to established approaches to the management and conservation of natural resources, biodiversity and diverse bioregions. The paper explores how climate adaptation will require new ways of incorporating complexity, risk and uncertainty into policy, science and governance arrangements. In face of future climate uncertainty there are strong arguments for emphasising approaches based on cultural learning, adaptive institutions and the building of community and professional capacity for adaptive management of natural resources.
This paper addresses the issue of socioeconomic sustainability in areas where climate events and policy developments in combination are creating significant uncertainty. The paper argues the significant of social sustainability for Australian agriculture and calls on policy makers to address a lack of attention to these factors in policy developments. It outlines a vision to achieve a viable future for rural Australia.
Climate change presents the need and opportunity for major or ‘transformational’ adaptation in agriculture. This paper outlines some of the major issues posed by such adaptation, including the potential for both the absence and presence of such changes to lead to negative effects. It is concluded that transformational adaptation presents great gains and risks to agriculture and raises important questions about the role of agriculture within the rural landscape and communities, and the broader social, political and cultural environment.
For crop species, a longer term adaptation to climate change is the breeding of new varieties for ‘future’ growing conditions. Breeding requires the assessment of genetic diversity for adaptation, and the selection and recombining of genetic resources into new varieties for production systems for projected future climate and atmospheric conditions. The clearest opportunities for genetic gains are in developing better adaptation to higher temperatures (e.g. control of phenological stage durations, and tolerance to stress) and, for C3 species, in exploiting the (relatively small) fertilisation effects of elevated CO2.
CP11170Soils and climate change: potential impacts on carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions, and future research for Australian agriculture
Soil can be a significant source or sink for three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Globally, more carbon exists in soil than the atmosphere and surface vegetation combined. Adoption of appropriate soil management can partially offset greenhouse gas emissions, but the implications of predicted changes in climate require consideration. A combination of robust measurement and modelling techniques in a soil monitoring system is required to quantify how Australian agriculture may impact on GHG emissions.
CP11188Greenhouse gas accounting for inventory, emissions trading and life cycle assessment in the land-based sector: a review
There is growing interest in understanding and managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture, which is a significant source of GHG emissions. The approaches used to quantify GHG emissions differ depending on the application - national inventory, carbon footprinting, carbon offset projects - but generally use the same basic data and methods. It is critical that cost-effective yet credible GHG estimation methods are developed, so that landholders will be encouraged to participate in offset schemes and carbon footprinting, and thereby achieve significant reduction in GHG emissions from the agriculture sector.
Australia’s primary industries are likely to be uniquely impacted upon by climate change. In February 2011, the inaugural Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries (CCRSPI) conference was held to discuss the current state of climate change research across Australia’s primary industries. The policy makers, producers and scientists from all sectors of primary industries were brought together in one unique forum to address the challenges and opportunities by sharing knowledge across the various sectors, scientific disciplines and the industry-policy-science divide.