Developing and implementing grains best management practices for managing climate change and climate variability. Final technical report to Agforce Queensland on Aust. Govt Dept Agric, Fisheries and Forestry, FarmReady Project GMS – 0506

Project report


Clewett, J. F.. 2012. Developing and implementing grains best management practices for managing climate change and climate variability. Final technical report to Agforce Queensland on Aust. Govt Dept Agric, Fisheries and Forestry, FarmReady Project GMS – 0506. Toowoomba, Australia. Agroclim Pty Ltd.
Title

Developing and implementing grains best management practices for managing climate change and climate variability. Final technical report to Agforce Queensland on Aust. Govt Dept Agric, Fisheries and Forestry, FarmReady Project GMS – 0506

Report TypeProject report
Authors
AuthorClewett, J. F.
Institution of OriginAgroclim Pty Ltd
Number of Pages76
Year2012
PublisherAgroclim Pty Ltd
Place of PublicationToowoomba, Australia
Abstract


The 'Managing Climate Risk' module developed in this project aims to improve sustainable and profitable grains production in the Northern Grains Region through a needs-based education program. It is a significant addition to the Grains ‘Best Management Practice’ (BMP) program developed in Central Queensland that empowers grain growers with the capacity to assess their current management practices against a set of minimum industry standards for BMP, and to then identify a suite of actions to improve farm production practices. A suite of 24 minimum BMP standards for managing the variability of seasonal conditions and longer-term changes in climate are considered in the module’s 4 areas: (i) linking climate and crop production, (ii) risk management principles, framework and process, (iii) farming tactics and strategies for managing climate risks, and (iv) managerial skills. These minimum BMP standards were ratified by industry reference panels in southern and central Queensland, and were considered by 87 grain growers attending 14 workshops from Narrabri in NSW to Clermont in Central Queensland, and 27 grain industry consultants, researchers and extension officers at three professional development workshops.
The most important climate risks to manage as perceived by grain farmers were found to be low and variable rainfall, and catastrophic events such as drought, intense storms, flood and unseasonal severe frost. Managing opportunities such as the 'perfect' weather for grain production and other risks such as heat waves, windy conditions wet weather impacts on pests and pathogens were also rated as important. Developing skills to address strategic and tactical operations at paddock, whole-farm and off-farm levels were identified as central to effective management of climate risk. Most growers considered their current agronomic practices for managing climate risk were either 'level with' or 'above' the industry minimum BMP standard (19% and 75% of growers respectively), and very few growers assessed their current practices as 'below' the minimum BMP standard. Making best use of continuously updated historical weather records and skills to assess current weather patterns, seasonal forecasts and long-range climate change forecasts were seen as priorities. Further priorities for management included the use of a robust risk management framework and process as defined by the Australian Standards for Risk Management. However, a significant proportion of growers considered their existing practices were 'below' the minimum industry BMP standard for risk management (48%), risk assessment (31%), record keeping (39%) and business planning (12%). Risk assessment and evaluation of options was identified as priorities by 73% and 95% of growers respectively. Off-farm investments, off-farm employment activities and a healthy lifestyle to mitigate climate induced stresses were also considered to be important.

The project successfully met objectives of the FarmReady Program concerning promotion, uptake, best practice and integration with industry. BMP standards developed in the 'Managing Climate Risk' module now provide useful benchmarks for extension programs that can be transferable nationally, and thus should be promoted to agencies such as the Grains Research and Development Corporation, training organisations for vocational education, and State Departments of Agriculture. RD&E programs should promote the uptake of robust, flexible management systems for managing the variability of seasonal conditions as the key approach for adaptation to climate change.

Keywordsclimate risk, climate variability, climate change, best management practice, BMP, grain farming
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300208. Farm management, rural management and agribusiness
300202. Agricultural land management
Byline AffiliationsAgroclim, Australia
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