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Is climate change still an elephant in the room?

Here at the NFF Congress, climate change is no elephant in the room, with innovation to reduce our emissions footprint and embrace renewable technologies on farm - front and centre in our discussions.

In our Innovation to Manage our Climate Challenges session we heard from leading researchers and practitioners on what more we need to do to address the challenges of Climate Change.  The take home messages for me from this session were:

  • we know that the research shows that opportunities to reduce emissions from livestock systems almost always results in improvements in productivity. (Thanks Tom Davison from MLA)
  • better matching nitrogen application in cropping systems makes sense.  Being more efficient in our inputs reduces emissions of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and saves farmers at the hip pocket. (Thanks Prof Peter Grace from UQ)
  • extreme events really knock our production systems around – with the dairy industry being particularly susceptible to heat waves. (Thanks Gillian Hayman, Gippsland Dairy Farmer)
  • we can look forward to another step change in BOM’s forecasting capability – with finer resolution forecasts for the season, month, forthnight, and week with better accuracy.  (Thanks to BoM’s Neil Plummer)
  • though we rely on the weather and climate like no other industry, we have collectively invested very little in building our capabilities to better understand, forecast and predict conditions. (Tom Davison, MLA)

Today, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO released their biennial “State of the Climate Report”, a snapshot of how Australia’s weather is changing.  According to the Fast Facts from this report:

  • Australia has warmed by around 1 °C since 1910.
  • The number of days per year over 35 °C has increased in recent decades, except in parts of northern Australia.
  • There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
  • May-July rainfall has reduced by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the southwest of Australia.
  • April-October growing season rainfall has reduced by around 11 per cent since the mid-1990s in the continental southeast of Australia.
  • Rainfall has increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s.
  • The overwhelming contribution to the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is from human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels.
  • The atmospheric CO2 increases in 2015 were the highest ever observed.

Source CSIRO & BoM State of the Climate 2016 Report

Gillian Hayman, a dairy farmer from the Gippsland (Vic) spoke at our congress.  She talks to dairy farmers about climate change all the time and thinks that in the main farmers recognise that climate variability is part of everyday life and that they must adapt.

What do you think?  You can share your views about climate and be in the running to win a Beam Energy & Flex solar system and battery storage by Enphase worth $15,000 for your farm by completing the Farmers for Climate Action survey.  

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