ArticlePDF Available

Perceptions of climate variability and dairy farmer adaptations in Corangamite Shire, Victoria, Australia

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Purpose – The article surveys dairy farmers' lay knowledge of climate change and the adaptation strategies they have implemented to respond to climatic and economic drivers. Dairy farming is highly dependent on local weather and climate. The case study is in Western Victoria, Australia, part of a major dairy farming region that contributes 26 per cent of national milk production and 86 per cent of the country's dairy exports. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – This study utilised a survey and semi-structured interviews in Corangamite Shire, to document dairy farmers' perceptions of climate variability and the adaptation strategies they have implemented, compared to meteorological data collected on climate variability in the recent past. Findings – Farmers in this region perceive a change in rainfall and temperature broadly in line with meteorological records. Those that have experienced a greater degree of climate variability in drier regions were found to perceive it more accurately. Almost all respondents had already made changes to their dairy businesses, but in doing so only a small percentage were responding directly to seasonal variability or to longer term changes (9 and 15 per cent, respectively); the majority said they were responding to changing economic conditions in the industry. Originality/value – A primary survey of dairy farming adds to knowledge of how climate variability is perceived, and how it is adapted to in a region heavily reliant on rainfall for its prime economic activity.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Perceptions of climate variability
and dairy farmer adaptations
in Corangamite Shire,
Victoria, Australia
Iain R. Elgin-Stuczynski
CBRE Agribusiness, Melbourne, Australia, and
Simon Batterbury
Department of Resource Management and Geography,
University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia
Abstract
Purpose – The article surveys dairy farmers’ lay knowledge of climate change and the adaptation
strategies they have implemented to respond to climatic and economic drivers. Dairy farming is highly
dependent on local weather and climate. The case study is in Western Victoria, Australia, part of a
major dairy farming region that contributes 26 per cent of national milk production and 86 per cent of
the country’s dairy exports. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach This study utilised a survey and semi-structured interviews
in Corangamite Shire, to document dairy farmers’ perceptions of climate variability and the adaptation
strategies they have implemented, compared to meteorological data collected on climate variability in
the recent past.
Findings Farmers in this region perceive a change in rainfall and temperature broadly in line with
meteorological records. Those that have experienced a greater degree of climate variability in drier
regions were found to perceive it more accurately. Almost all respondents had already made changes
to their dairy businesses, but in doing so only a small percentage were responding directly to seasonal
variability or to longer term changes (9 and 15 per cent, respectively); the majority said they were
responding to changing economic conditions in the industry.
Originality/value A primary survey of dairy farming adds to knowledge of how climate
variability is perceived, and how it is adapted to in a region heavily reliant on rainfall for its prime
economic activity.
Keywords Climate variability, Climate adaptation, Corangamite Shire, Victoria, Australia,
Dairy farming, Farmer perceptions
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In the local authority district known as Corangamite Shire, Victoria, south-east
Australia (Figure 1), the success of dairy farming is intrinsically linked to the economic
and social well-being of the region (WestVic Dairy, 2010). Some 22 per cent of the
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1756-8692.htm
The authors would like to thank all the survey respondents for their kind participation and
three reviewers. For assistance with survey distribution; Murray Goulburn Cooperative Co. Ltd,
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, and West Vic Dairy. For data and advice; Stephen Commadeur
at Australian Agribusiness Group, and Helen Chenoweth and Graeme Anderson at the Victorian
Department of Primary Industries.
International Journal of Climate
Change Strategies and Management
Vol. 6 No. 1, 2014
pp. 85-107
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
1756-8692
DOI 10.1108/IJCCSM-03-2013-0039
Perceptions
of climate
variability
85
Shire’s population work in dairying, and it contributes to Victoria’s dairy exports that
were valued at AU $1.96 billion in 2010-2011 (Fravel and Ridley, 2012). Corangamite is
a region of 4,404 km
2
with a population of approximately 16,000 (ABS, 2011).
Most dairy farms in Corangamite Shire are not irrigated, and pasture quality relies
on adequate precipitation, which increases from north to south (Figure 2) (DSE, 2008;
Phelps et al., 2012). Projections from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
suggest that temperatures are expected to rise by approximately 18C by 2030 across
this region, whilst precipitation is expected to decline by 5 per cent (Watterson et al.,
2007). Such expected changes in the climate could have significant negative impacts
upon all agricultural enterprises, in terms of production and profitability (deVoil et al.,
2006; Hayman et al., 2008; Howden and Jones, 2001; Jones and Hennessy, 2000; Luo et al.,
2007; White et al., 2003)[1]. Future adaptations to climate risk must involve managing
fluctuations in rainfall and temperature, and climatic uncertainty that may exceed
historical patterns (Bryant et al., 2000; Bradshaw et al., 2004; Buys et al., 2012;
Mu
¨ller et al., 2011).
This article explores the current relationship between dairying and climate in the
region. We explain how dairy farmers perceive recent (post-2001) variations in the
climate within which they operate. Meteorological observations are compared with
participants’ responses on how they perceive climate is changing. A second aim is to
ask how farmers have adapted their material practices deriving from these perceptions,
where information came from to make these decisions, and their perceived degree of
success.
We conclude with a simplified framework for understanding agricultural
adaptation to climate change in this industry.
Figure 1.
Victorian dairy
farming regions Note: Corangamite Shire is identified within the Western Victoria Dairy region
IJCCSM
6,1
86
2. Climate change and variability in the region
The Australian agricultural sector has always had to adapt and adjust its practices to a
harsh, highly variable and unforgiving climate (Stokes and Howden, 2011). There is
current evidence that anthropogenic climate change is already impacting negatively on
the agricultural sector, and a robust debate about future trends (Hughes, 2003; IPCC, 2007).
In south-west Victoria, Watterson et al. (2007) expect a 1-1.58C temperature increase
by 2070 and a 5-10 per cent decline in annual precipitation. The Forest Fire
Figure 2.
Corangamite Shire and the
study’s three sub-regions
Perceptions
of climate
variability
87
Danger Index (FFDI), a function of weather patterns and vegetation condition,
increased from 1973 to 2007 at both stations in closest proximity to the Corangamite
Shire: Melbourne (VIC) and Mount Gambier (SA). The expected number of FFDI days
of very high and extreme danger is projected to increase under all emission scenarios
produced for the years 2020 and 2050 at the Melbourne site (Hennessy et al., 2005).
The region suffers periodic “agricultural drought”, most recently in the mid-2000s
(BoM, 1967; CSIRO, 2007; Mpelasoka et al., 2008). Burke et al. (2006), using the Palmer
Drought Severity Index, suggests that whilst the incidence of drought did not increase in
relative terms over the 1952-1998 period in south-west Victoria, there is a greater
likelihood of drought incidence over the period 2000-2046, with a sharper increase
thereafter. Projections by Mpelasoka et al. (2008) suggest that under various climate
models and under low emission scenarios the incidence of drought in south-west
Victoria would remain steady or decrease to 2030, whilst under high emission scenarios
it would increase by 0-20 per cent.
It is also expected that climate variability will increase in future (Hennessy et al.,
2008). The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) expects
that Victoria will face some of the highest increases in seasonal variability in Australia,
expected to present as increased incidence of drought and flood events (Barber, 2009).
Dairy Australia (2007), the national representative body for the dairy industry, list
seven expected impacts that future expected climate change could have in the region.
These are:
(1) higher pasture growth in winter due to warmer temperatures and fewer frosts,
but;
(2) reduced pasture growth overall due to lower annual water availability[2];
(3) earlier harvest and sowing times for summer crops due to earlier warmer
temperatures;
(4) longer growing seasons that will favour perennial and/or drought tolerant
pasture species;
(5) increased water stress due to declining precipitation which may in turn reduce
water for dairy wash-down[3];
(6) increased heat-stress for livestock due to warmer temperatures; and
(7) higher temperature and lower rainfall to increase the competitiveness of C4
pasture species at the expense of C3 species[4].
Combined, these impacts are expected to have a significant impact. Across Victoria;
a 5 per cent contraction in dairy production by 2030 is estimated in the event of no
major adaptation actions being taken (and 10 per cent by 2050) (Gunasekera et al., 2007;
based on models by Cline (2007)).
3. How farmers adapt to climate change and variability
Climate stimuli vary significantly on a regional scale, but, also on a local scale
across individual farms and landscapes (Bryant et al., 1997). Adaptation to local
conditions, therefore, are individually tailored, although our surveys demonstrate some
commonalities. Variation can be explained by the intrinsic heterogeneity in managerial
acumen, entrepreneurial capabilities, family circumstances, decision-making styles,
IJCCSM
6,1
88
personal and community values and the strength of professional networks
(Bryant et al., 2000; Risbey et al., 1999). Some farmers and their workforce are more
aware than others of change, and thus more willing to progress alterations to dairying
practices.
Risbey et al. (1999) propose a “bottom-up” method of investigating agricultural
adaptation to climate variability and change, with a strong focus on farmer perception
of climate variability and individual adaptation and decision-making. Their study is
appealing, and has been taken up by other authors (Smit and Skinner, 2002, Smit and
Wandel, 2006). They interrogate what adaptation decisions farmers have actually
made in response to a changing climate. This is part of a long tradition of research in
geography, anthropology and other disciplines based on fieldwork in farming systems,
and monitoring of farmer behaviour in response to climatic and economic stimuli
(Batterbury and Mortimore, 2013; Mertz et al., 2009; Mortimore, 1989, pp. 4-6; Richards,
2010; Smit et al., 2000).
Risbey et al. (1999) suggest that whilst farmers are aware of macro-scale change,
most on-farm decisions are made in response to micro-level changes like a decline in
on-farm rainfall[5]. Short-term responses, like buying in extra water for livestock,
are termed tactical responses. Longer term changes are strategic; resulting in an
observable change in farm operation beyond a single season (Smit et al., 1996).
WIDCORP (2009), Schwartz et al. (2011) and Kiem et al. (2010) investigated whether
Victorian farmers perceive changes in the climate, and how they have implemented
changes in their businesses. The latter study found farmers possess a great adaptive
ability due to their innate inclination for experimentation, although the farmers deemed
most financially and socially vulnerable were also the least likely to alter their
production systems. Farmers were primarily focussed on economic adaptations to
enable them to “hold on”, and the majority were not adapting their business to a future
shaped by a changing climate, prioritising the short-term (Hogan et al., 2011b). Victoria
has recently experienced drought-to-flood conditions which have compounded
difficulties for the sector (Rickards, 2012) resulting in some strategic adaptations
altering crop varieties, or looking for more off-farm income sources. Ironically, effective
adaptation to drought, which has included buying farmland in wetter regions as a form
of security, was found to have reduced adaptive capacity to extreme wet periods that
have occurred over the last five years.
A focus on individual adaptation strategies, the focus of our surveys, does not
suggest that collective or co-operative adaptive actions should be overlooked.
In Corangamite, farmers do or course cooperate, for example on stream fencing, even if
most dairy concerns are owner-occupier concerns. Bryant et al. (2000) suggest that
farmers with weak social networks struggle to implement adaptations that require
group co-operation.
4. Research methods and locations
Against this complex range of climatic factors affecting the dairying sector,
we conducted a mixed-methods study in 2012, utilising a mail-out and online survey
to 80 farmers in Corangamite Shire, supplemented with ten semi structured interviews.
Participants were selected based upon the criteria of location, age, and herd size. All were
reliant on dairying for more than 90 per cent of their income. The survey questions, first
piloted and refined, were divided into five themes: demographics, perceptions,
Perceptions
of climate
variability
89
management practices, climate change and the role of government, adapted from
Risbey et al. (1999). Interviews followed the same five themes. The majority of interviews
(80 per cent) were conducted with both heads of households.
We compared the sample with Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on dairy
farming in Corangamite Shire (ABS, 2008) and a recent Dairying for Tomorrow survey
of current dairy farming practices[6]. Three sub-regions of the Shire were defined (SR1,
SR2, SR3), based upon average annual rainfall isohyets (Figure 2). Results were
tabulated using descriptive statistics and adaptation strategies were classified and
compared to the literature.
Northern reaches of the Shire (SR1) are drier than those in the far south-east (SR3),
whilst average temperature is fairly similar across the region. Almost all dairying is
concentrated in the wetter regions to the south of the main transport artery the Princes
Highway, which dissects SR1. Pasture yields vary from approximately 15 t DM/ha/y in
the Otway (SR3), to about 6 t DM/ha/y in the north of SR1. Modelling by research teams
suggests the prevalent ryegrass pasture can sustain temperature increases of up to 28C
warming with adequate productivity (Cullen et al., 2012).
In line with an aging population of dairy farm owners in rural Victoria, over a third
of the survey and interview participants have spent more than 25 years on their
current farm, with over 60 per cent having resided at least a decade (Table I). Almost
75 per cent of survey respondents have been dairy farmers for over 25 years. Despite
the presence of multi-generational dairy households there is significant purchase and
sale of agricultural land in the Shire, reflecting the changing fortunes of the sector and
the intentions of its participants. A farm herd size of between 200 and 499 cows was
the most common (slightly above the national average; Nettle and Lamb, 2010). Very
few participants ran herds larger or smaller than this. Milk is sold to several major
dairy companies, and then packaged and distributed by the dairy.
Climatic data, reported here in summary form, included monthly temperature and
rainfall data, aggregated into annual and seasonal datasets and then graphed as ten
and 30 year moving averages[7].
5. Results and discussion
We first explore the links between farmer perceptions of changing seasonal conditions,
compared to the meteorological record. The second sub-section will establish how
farmers are actually adjusting their businesses to their perceptions of climate
variability and change.
Time on current property (years)
Survey sample
(% by time on farm)
SR1
(%)
SR2
(%)
SR3
(%)
Interview sample
(%)
0-5 4 6 –
5-10 9 25 6 3
10-20 13 31 3 17 20
20-40 50 31 52 60 70
40 þ24 13 33 20 10
Total surveys ( þinterviews).
Five more had unknown postcodes
14
(þ4)
31
(þ4)
30
(þ2)
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
Table I.
Time on current property;
distribution of survey
and interview
respondents
IJCCSM
6,1
90
Assessing farmer’s perceptions of climate variability and change
How farmers perceive a change in signal, in this case climate stimuli, plays a significant
role in how they may then adjust their farming to adapt to this change (Risbey et al.,
1999). Some 36 per cent of farmers surveyed perceived a change in rainfall over the past
decade. Conversely 38 per cent stated that they had not noticed a change, with the
remainder undecided on the issue (Figure 3). Across the three sub-regions,
SR2 respondents showed the best detection of changing rainfall patterns (52 per cent
of those surveyed), followed closely by SR1 (43 per cent). Only 30 per cent of SR3
respondents, living in the wettest region, thought that it had become drier over the last
ten years. According to two SR3 farmers:
Interviewer: In your time on this property, 10 years, have you noticed changes in rainfall?
Respondent IC6: I think we’ve seen a cycle, a series of wet years, a series of dry years and now
a series of wet years again. We haven’t seen too many extremes, nothing outside of normal.
Interviewer: Have you noticed any change in rainfall pattern [...] as opposed to natural
variation?
IC4: I don’t consider anything to be out of the ordinary [...] we’re just in a good rainfall area.
This can be compared against those in the drier northern regions who were more
inclined to notice a change:
Interviewer: Have you noticed much change in the rainfall patterns?
IC5: Yes. In the last 10 years we’ve had a heap of failed autumns. Autumn has become a
disaster, it never used to be, you could bank on autumn. Now it is just hot and dry. My first
10 years it was never like that [...]. It just stays dry, Autumn is a nice time of the year,
but you can’t farm off no moisture. We’ve had two good ones in 12 years.
The meteorological record indicates decreasing rainfall, with ten of the 14 rain stations
showing a fall in the 30-year average annual rainfall since 2001 (Figures 4 and 5, which
distinguish between northern drier and southern wetter locations). Of these ten stations
(Figure 6), eight also displayed a rainfall total wholly below the long-term average over
the past decade, with six of these by greater than one standard deviatio n below the mean.
The stations that fall in the northern half of the Shire and in SR1 have displayed a lower
Figure 3.
Rainfall signal detection
and evaluation for whole
survey sample
Less rainfall is
beneficial to me
Rainfall patterns are
moving southwards
In the last 10 years it
has become drier
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree
Strongly AgreeAgree
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
5%
8%
16%
33%
29%
49%
22%
36%
11%
31%
17%
18%
5%
3%
3%
Perceptions
of climate
variability
91
degree of variation from the mean over the past decade (Figure 5). All bar one station
show a negative rainfall trend over the past decade, linked particularly to declining
autumn rainfall (the data shows a significant drop in autumn rainfall totals since 1991).
Among the SR2 and SR3 stations a decline in spring and winter rainfall has occurred.
Coupled with the fact that the northern regions have lower net rainfall than the south,
it comes as no surprise that SR1 respondents perceived a drop in rainfall over time
(Figure 7). In SR2, where rainfall declined by less than in SR1 , fewer respondents thought
that rainfall patterns were moving southwards and thus becoming drier. Farmers’
perceptions in SR1 (and SR2) appear to be in accordance with the meteorological data.
Figure 4.
Thirty-year averaged
annual rainfall from
southern Corangamite
Shire (SR3)
recording stations from
period 1991 to 2011
650
700
750
800
850
900
950
1,000
1,050
1,100
1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
mm/yr
Cobden P.O.
Gelibrand River
Nullawarre
Port Campbell
Princetown
Terang
Timboon
Kolora
Camperdown
(Donalds Hill)
Note: y-axis units: millimetres (mm)
Source: BoM (2012)
IJCCSM
6,1
92
Figure 6.
Location of raingauge
station data shown in
Figures 4 and 5
Figure 5.
Thirty-year
averaged annual rainfall
from northern
Corangamite Shire (SR1)
recording stations from
period 1991 to 2011
550
600
650
700
1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
Berrybank
Lismore
Skipton P.O.
Derrinallum P.O.
Derrinallum Craigmore
Camperdown Ettrick
Darlington (Ware St.)
mm/yr
Note: y-axis units: millimetres (mm)
Source: BoM (2012)
Perceptions
of climate
variability
93
But in SR3, where rainfall is much higher, the majority of farmers were unable to detect
the fall in average rainfall in recent years. Mortimore (1989, p. 50) suggests that under
similar drought conditions in Africa, farmers in relatively more marginal regions have a
greater need to react to changes compared to those in less variable ones, even if the losses
incurred across both regions are proportionally similar.
Turning to temperature, mean annual maximum and minimum temperature in
Corangamite Shire increased between 1891 and 2011, with the difference between
maximum and minimum growing over time (Figures 8 and 9, showing combined
datasets). Over this period maximum temperature has risen by a little over one degree.
Farmer perceptions of these temperature changes were not always accurate
(Figure 10). Approximately 40 per cent of all respondents across the Shire stated that
temperature patterns have not changed in the past decade, whilst 29 per cent correctly
stated that they have increased (Figure 10). Those in the north were more inclined to
state the change than their southern counterparts. Of interest are the 89 per cent of
respondents who believed that were temperatures to increase, this would be negative
for their operations. In fact farmers struggled to perceive if temperature has increased
in all regions:
Figure 7.
Rainfall signal detection
and evaluation for SR1
7%
7%
14%
21%
14%
50%
29%
36%
7%
43%
36%
21%
Less rainfall is
beneficial to me
Rainfall patterns are
moving southwards
In the last 10 years it
has become drier
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
Strongly Disagree Disagree
AgreeNeither Agree nor Disagree
Figure 8.
Mean annual maximum
temperature 1891-2011
from four different points
in Corangamite Shire
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
1891 1911 1931 1951 1971 1991 2011
Terang Westmere Lismore Mortlake Linear (Total)
Note: y-axis units: °C
Source: BoM (2012)
IJCCSM
6,1
94
Interviewer: Have you noticed any change in temperature patterns?
IC5: Hard to say if it is getting hotter, I don’t know about that.
Interviewer: As far as temperatures go, have you seen at all any changes?
IC1: No, no, it has been cold in July for the last 35 years.
Interviewer: Have you noticed any change in [temperature] patterns?
IC2: I think climate change is taking place basically over 100 years or more, so it is very hard
for me to pick it up from just normal variation in the seasons.
Farmers are finding it difficult to differentiate between change in the signal (increasing
temperature) and noise (temperature variation). This is expected, as temperatures have
risen by only a small amount over the past 25 years.
Some 20 per cent of individuals agreed that fire risk and the incidence of drought had
increased over the past ten years, whilst 31 per cent said that extreme weather events
have become more frequent since 2001 (Figure 11). The most northern region (SR1) had
Figure 9.
Mean annual minimum
temperature 1891-2011
from four different points
in Corangamite Shire
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
1891 1911 1931 1951 1971 1991 2011
Terang Westmere Terang Mortlake Total Linear (Total)
Note: y-axis units: °C
Source: BoM (2012)
Figure 10.
Temperature signal
detection and evaluation
for whole survey sample
8%
8%
17%
33%
31%
27%
41%
24%
35%
29%
29%
24%
14%
29%
10%
5%
1%
6%
1%
In the last 10 years
it has become warmer
Temperature patterns are
moving southwards
Increasing temperatures
concern me
Increasing temperatures
are positive for me
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree
Strongly AgreeAgree
4%
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
Perceptions
of climate
variability
95
the greatest proportion of respondents who detected an increase in the incidence of
extreme weather events, followed by the central SR2 and the southerly SR3.
The drought that affected much of eastern Australia through the early to late 2000s
was particularly hard for farming families. Corangamite Shire was not as badly
affected as some northern regions of Victoria (Figure 12). Eastern Victoria escaped the
worst of the effects of a crippling 2003 drought (ABC, 2002) but in 2007 and 2009 the
dairy farming region recorded a serious deficiency in rainfall affecting livestock and
pasture. The dates of serious droughts in Victoria since 1900 are shown in Table II.
The perception is that drought management strategies have improved significantly
over the past 50 years, reducing farmers’ vulnerability. This was supported by farmer
IC7 in SR1, who had farmed through the droughts of the 1960s until the present:
IC7: I saw the 1970’s [as being] very wet, I haven’t seen anything as wet as that since [...] I don’t
think that there is anything new in droughts, there are fences through all the dried up lakes.
I remember the drought of ’68, I haven’t seen anything as dry as that since. But we can shift
fodder now to here for a cost [...] you couldn’t do that in ’68 [...] we’re better at drought
management now.
Younger farmers were more inclined to perceive a change in temperature and rainfall
patterns in accord with rainfall data, and similar findings have been noticed in other
locations (Diggs, 1991; Leviston et al., 2011; Nyanga et al., 2011). Those with smaller
holdings had more accurate perception of a chan ge in temperature: perhaps because they
need to be more “in-tune” with seasonal shifts to ensure optimal pasture production at
minimal cost (Nyanga et al., 2011). For them, buying in fodder in the event of failed
pastures could negate any profit.
Assessing farmers’ adaptations to climate variability
A major challenge for all research on climate adaptation is differentiating between
adjustments implemented by farmers in response to changing seasonal variability or
climate variability, and adjustments implemented to adapt to other drivers of change.
Of course the latter adjustments may, as a by-product, increase (or possibly reduce) the
resilience of the farm to seasonal variability (Belliveau et al., 2006). This difference is
illustrated by two farmers, IC5 and IC6 both changed their pasture mix from annual
to perennial species over the past decade. In IC5’s case this was to increase the farm’s
Figure 11.
Extreme weather
signal detection for
whole survey sample
15%
10%
17%
32%
33%
31%
32%
22%
27%
10%
26%
14%
10%
5%
4%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Fire risk to my business has
increased in the past decade
The incidence of extreme weather events
has increased in the last 10 years
Droughts since 2002 are more
severe than in prior periods
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree
Strongly AgreeAgree
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
IJCCSM
6,1
96
resilience to seasonal rainfall variability, whilst for IC6 it was due to the increasing cost
of buying grain and feed supplements[8]:
Researcher: Do you see your new pasture regime as being more resilient to weather variability?
IC5: Yes, definitely, and we are counting that into [why we changed], we haven’t got
everything right [...] but we have learnt a lot on what pastures do best here [...] and the
last 8 months have been the driest on record here [...]
Figure 12.
Incidence of 1 October to
31 March drought in
Victoria, 2001-2012
2012 2011 2010
2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004
2003 2002 2001
Notes: Corangamite Shire is illustrated by black outline in south-west; pink: serious
deficiency in rainfall (less than tenth percentile); light red: severe deficiency in rainfall
(less than fifth percentile); solid red: lowest rainfall on record
Source: BoM (2012)
Perceptions
of climate
variability
97
Researcher: With regards to pasture growth and pasture management, have you had to
change what pasture you grow or the type of pastures you grow?
IC6: We try and stay up to date with the pastures [...] they bring out new species all the time.
We try and use them [...] we can grow more grass, and cut back on the grain bill, because the
price has gone up.
Farmers were questioned about which adjustments they have made to their dairy
business over the past decade. In total, 23 options were documented over three
categories. To overcome the difficulty in distinguishing the reasons behind these, all
adjustment scenarios presented in a survey checklist were those that had been
previously suggested by industry peak bodies, the Victorian DPI, other Australian
state bodies, and in the literature[9].
Almost all (94 per cent) of farmers surveyed stated that they had made a physical
adjustment to their business in the past decade. Some 79 per cent implemented new
practices (Figure 13 and Table III), 86 per cent altered an existing practice. The most
common new action taken was the use of seasonal forecasting technology as an aid for what
pastures to sow, and when to sow them (Figure 13). This was particularly visible among
SR2 farmers (Table III). These findings are in line with other surveys conducted in Victoria
by WIDCORP (2008) and Schwartz et al. (2011). There were also notable changes in the
pasture species grown on-farm, and in the adoption of more sustainable water use practices.
Serious rainfall deficiency Severe rainfall deficiency
Lowest rainfall on
record
1997, 1983, 1982, 1964, 1951, 1943, 1934,
1922, 1909, 1901
1985, 1968, 1944, 1942, 1936, 1921,
1920, 1915, 1912
1939, 1926
Note: Serious and severe deficiency are equivalent to less than tenth and fifth percentile rainfall,
respectively
Source: BoM (2012)
Table II.
Years when there was a
1 October to 31 March
drought in Corangamite
Shire from 1900 to 2000,
by category
Figure 13.
New management
practices implemented by
survey sample
(percentage of sample)
48%
43%
33%
17% 14% 17%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
Seasonal
forecasting
for what and
when to sow
Changed
pasture
mix
Adopted a
sustainable
water use
policy
Started to
fertilise
pastures
Stopped
fertilising/organic
pasture
management
Other
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
IJCCSM
6,1
98
Changing pasture mix (in terms of species and varieties) was the second most common
adjustment, and was often aided by agricultural extension advice. The decision by
farmers to alter their pasture species mix is an adaptive adjustment to reduced rainfall
and increased temperatures and the northern farmers led this change (Table III).
Figure 14 and Table IV show more detail on the adjustments made by a subset of the
sample who self-identified as altering their existing practices. Improving the efficiency
of water used in the twice-daily “wash-down” of the dairy is important since between
5,000 and 25,000 litres is used per wash, taking one to two hours per day (Dairy Research
and Development Corporation, 2003). Some respondents, not really distinguished by
zone, have installed new reticulating effluent ponds, using the sediment as nutrient rich
irrigation water for pasture. Such a strategy was implemented by farmer IC2 to increase
the fertiliser load on nutrient poor sandy fields and resulted in an increase in pasture
growth:
Interviewer: Would you reticulate [the effluent run-off] through an irrigation system?
IC2: Yeah, we actually have, because we are fairly high on the farm, we have a manure pond
at the highest point of the farm. The back of the farm is more sandy, and needs extra fertiliser,
and we use those areas for irrigation for effluent.
Action SR1 (%) SR2 (%) SR3 (%)
Seasonal forecasting for what and when to sow 42 52 44
Changed pasture species mix 50 43 36
Adopted a sustainable water use policy 33 33 36
Started to fertilise pastures 33 24 8
Stopped fertilising/organic pasture management 17 10 16
Other 25 19 16
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey, Q3.1
Table III.
New management
practices implemented,
by those who
implemented them over
the last ten years,
separated by sub-region
Figure 14.
Changes implemented in
existing management
practices by subset of
survey sample who
changed their
management practices
(percentage of sub-sample)
67%
35% 32% 30% 25% 20% 19% 13% 9% 9%
17%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
Improved wash-down
efficiency/recyclewash-
down water
Expanded water
storages
Harvesting pasture
earlier
Increased fertiliser load
Increased in-paddock
shade
Sowing pasture earlier
Sowing drought tolerant
pasture
Reduced fertiliser load
Reduced paddock
rotation cycle
Agro-tourism
Other
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
Perceptions
of climate
variability
99
IC2 constructed an effluent water recycling system on economic grounds:
Interviewer: And has this [effluent water recycling system] been a beneficial change for your
property?
IC2: Definitely. We have a reduce reliance on fertiliser, and buying fertiliser, the growth in
those paddocks has improved substantially, so we don’t have to buy in as much fertiliser and
we do find that some of those paddocks they take off earlier in the autumn, so in a way we
don’t start that far behind.
Interviewer: So this is more of an economic decision?
IC2: Yes.
The northern and drier sub-region was the most likely to expand water storages, in line
with their increased perception of a decline in rainfall over the past decade (Table IV).
The majority (80 per cent) of farmers who did this were aged between 35 and 54. Such
an outcome is expected due to the very high capital outlay required[10]:
Interviewer: Have you had to bolster your water storages?
IC7: We put in a couple of good sized dams for water storage, and we have probably utilised
the ones we had more than previous managers. We have a bigger supply of water now than
we previously had.
The adjustments nominated by participants have adapted farms to expected future
climate scenarios, but it is clear that these decisions are being made as a reactionary
response primarily to fluctuation in economic, not climatic stimuli (Smit et al., 2000)
(Figure 15). For example: reduced profit occurs if milk production declines. Milk
production has itself declined due to poor pasture production. Pasture production is
poor due to seasonal conditions outside the current pastures’ optimal growing
conditions. To increase milk production the farmer alters the pasture species, the
altered pasture species produced more nutritional value under current seasonal
conditions, higher quality pasture raises milk production, and higher milk production
increases profit. The farmer is most likely to state that a change in pasture mix was
implemented, with the reason behind this being because it made good financial sense,
however the underlying reason for this change was in part a variation in climate.
Action SR1 (%) SR2 (%) SR3 (%)
Improved wash-down efficiency/recycle wash-down water 69 67 67
Expanded water storages 46 33 33
Harvesting pasture earlier 31 41 25
Increased fertiliser load 31 41 21
Increased in-paddock shade 15 33 25
Sowing pasture earlier 15 30 8
Sowing drought tolerant pasture 15 30 13
Reduced fertiliser load 0 19 13
Reduced paddock rotation cycle 8 4 13
Agro-tourism 8 7 4
Other 31 19 13
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey, Q3.2
Table IV.
Changes implemented in
existing management
practices by those who
changed management
practices
IJCCSM
6,1
100
Inherent farmer scepticism in the region towards environmentalist claims about global
warming and its political ramifications could account for this; however in the drier SR1
there was more recognition of climate variability (Figure 15).
Respondents IC5 in SR1 shifted their pasture management from a monoculture to a
mix of pasture varieties across their farm. This adjustment reduced costs and
improved herd health. However, IC5 also noticed a change in the seasonal variability:
Interviewer: Have you noticed any change in the weather patterns?
IC5: Less reliable, more fluctuation. Hard to say if it is getting hotter, I don’t know about that.But
we’ve had really dry, really hot, really wet, really cold, really windy. It is more all over the place.
Interviewer: Is that something which has become worse in your experience?
IC5: In the last 10 years we have had a lot of failed autumns, autumn is a disaster [...]inmy
first 10 to 15 years it wasn’t like that.
The adjustment was implemented as a response to the economic stimuli of the increasing
cost of fertiliser. But utility per unit of water has increased, thereby adapting to the
expected future climate scenario. Again, a business decision can have adaptive benefits.
The rainfall data for the region certainly confirms a decline in autumn rainfall in SR1.
Smit and Skinner (2002) posit that adaptation is seldom made in response to single
factors, and that the decision to adjust a business is usually iterative and dynamic.
This is supported by this study. The nature of experimentation and iterative response
to climate variability nees to figure more in studies that link perceptions of climate to
climate adaptation (Batterbury and Mortimore, 2013; WIDCORP, 2009). In response to
a survey question on “how was [adjustment X] informed?”, there is evidence of shared
discussion and efforts:
IC1: Just word of mouth and observing the demo dairy and reading magazines that comes out
from [my milk collection co-operative].
IC2: We’re in a discussion group, so we actually are in a group with a whole lot of other
famers and we rotate visiting farms and quite often we have new things that they have tried
out, or recommendations.
IC3: I am in a local discussion group, and that information [was] readily available.
Figure 15.
The degree to which
changing seasonal
variability is noted as a
factor in changing
farming practices, by
those who made a change
to their practices
22%
21%
32%
14%
22%
14%
26%
25%
32%
29%
23%
46%
19%
36%
19%
7%
3%
4%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Survey sample
Sub-region 1
Sub-region 2
Sub-region 3
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree
Strongly AgreeAgree
Source: 2012 Corangamite Shire Dairy Farmers Survey
Perceptions
of climate
variability
101
The two predominant reasons for why a change was not implemented were; financial
limitations, and a perception that the farm was already in good working order.
Financial restrictions and access to capital have played a major part in curtailing farm
adjustments across Australia (WIDCORP, 2009) and internationally (Iglesias et al.,
2007; Dyszynski, 2010; Maddison, 2006; Nyanga et al., 2011; The World Bank, 2007,
p. 200). The majority of the farmers who did not change their farming approach were in
the 35-44 age bracket, were farm owners, and less likely than the average to perceive
climate change as a threat. Hogan et al. (2011a) categorise similar farmers in Australia
as “comfortable non-adaptors”, farmers who did not see climate change as a threat,
could continue to cope with changes, and were unlikely to seek information about
adjustment options. Farmers who stated that their farm worked fine and that there was
no need to adapt, may be categorised in this way. Nettle and Lamb (2010) reinforce the
fact that Victorian dairy farmers hold varying worldviews in relation to environmental
threats and their stewardship obligations.
The final step in our study was the gathering of retrospective feedback from farmers
who have made an adjustment to their business, to see if the adaptations implemented
have been effective (Risbey et al., 1999). There was a general consensus that change has
increased profits, increased efficiency and was of benefit to their businesses. And yet,
a low proportion of the sample population deemed changing seasonal variability to
be major factor in their decisions. Fortunately following Risbey et al. (1999) it would
be expected that the majority of farmers who adjusted their business over the past
decade will have added the adaptation strategy that they implemented into their future
repertoire. It is to be expected that these strategies will play a part in future (Figure 16).
We are in agreement with anthropologist Richards (2010) who says, following
Durkheim, that:
[...] much of what farmers and farm labourers do (as opposed to what science or regulatory
authority tells them to do) is based on practical contingencies [...] or it relates to unavoidable
social responsibilities to dependants or a wider community group (Richards, 2010, p. 10).
The practical contingencies for dairying households include making a living, and so
this structures perception of, and responses to, climate variability (Figure 16). In drier
regions, the struggle is more acute, and awareness of climate variability is greater.
6. Conclusions
Corangamite Shire dairy farmers’ perceptions of seasonal variability were found to be
broadly in line within the meteorological record. Northern (dry) region farmers were
more able to correctly perceive a change in rainfall signal, and were more inclined to
state that temperatures have changed, in comparison to their southern region (wetter)
counterparts. Farmers struggled to perceive a change in the incidence of extreme
weather events. Younger farmers were more likely to perceive a change in temperature
and rainfall over the last decade. Those with smaller holdings were more inclined to
notice a change in temperature than major landholders. Hypothetically, these farmers
must maximise pasture growth at minimal cost, and should pastures fail their smaller
profit margins and inability to mitigate climate risk can result in a more immediate and
unsustainable loss of income.
The majority of farmers in the survey stated that they have made an adjustment to
their business over the past decade; a lesser percentage had initiated entirely new
IJCCSM
6,1
102
practices like purchasing weather forecasts. Although farmers were aware of changes in
climate variability, the majority stated that economic stimuli were the underlying reason
for the changes that they implemented on-farm. The majority did not make a strategic
decision to adjust to changing climate variability, however the tactical actions they
carried out could be effective against it. Consequently, many of those surveyed have
adapted their businesses to climate variability as a result of their adaptation to economic
stimuli.
In accordance with their perceptions of climate variability and change, economic
stimuli played the dominant role in influencing farmer adaptive behaviour. The major,
conservative adjustment identified was water recycling and re-use in the dairy.
A greater connection still needs to be made between climate variability, climate
change, and the real long-term economics of dairying.
Notes
1. There have also been significant calls for dairying to reduce its carbon emissions and the
issue is significant, but our focus here is on how the dairying community has already
adapted to an uncertain climate.
2. The contradictory nature of these expected impacts reflects their uncertainty in climate
predictions. CSIRO (2007) state that there is a 243 to þ20 per cent uncertainty range in
run-off projection and a ^8 per cent uncertainty range in expected precipitation changes.
3. Not all farmers only use surface run-off. Some have bores or town water to supplement it.
4. C4 grasses have better water use efficiency, especially under warmer conditions, than C3
counterparts. C4 grasses are better adapted to drier conditions, however are not as nutritious
as C3 species, nor can they support similar density of cows/hectare as C3 grasses.
Figure 16.
Agricultural adaptation to
climate change occurring
as a result of adaptation to
economic stimuli
Change in climate stimuli
Production decline
Negative financial impact
Adjust business to secure production
and hence profitability
Adapt business to
change in climate stimuli
Increase business
resilience to future
change in climate stimuli
Positive financial
impact
Conscious
Benefit
Increase production
or efficiency
Unconscious
Benefit
Perceptions
of climate
variability
103
5. Macro-scale changes in this context include change to El Nino or La Nina conditions (as a
result of change in the Southern Oscillation Index) or a drop in milk price (due to
strengthening of the Australian Dollar).
6. The Dairying for Tomorrow survey was conducted on behalf of Dairy Australia in all major
Australian dairy regions, one of which is West Vic Dairy (Phelps et al., 2012).
7. As used by the BoM, see: www.bom.gov.au/climate/cdo/about/about-stats.shtml. Other
environmental data, including a heat stress index, was collected but is not reported in this
article.
8. As all feed for cattle may not be sourced all year-round from on-farm pastures, farmers often
used feed supplements, such as grain, to make up a shortfall in feed and to provide cows with
an incentive to come to the milking shed.
9. Increasing temperature, reduced rainfall (primarily autumn), increasing incidence of days of
high potential heat stress.
10. High capital cost means that farmers want to see a long term return on
investment. At 35, farmers can have 30 years to get the return on investment, but at
65 this is unlikely.
References
ABC (2002), “Farmers face worst drought in 100 years”, Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
available at: www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2002/s720415.htm
ABS (2008), “Dairy farming key statistics by LGA”, prepared by the Workplace Research Centre
for Dairy Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, available at: www.censusdata.abs.
gov.au
ABS (2011), “Corangamite (S) (local government area) people”, Australian Bureau of Statistics,
available at: www.censusdata.abs.gov.au
Barber, M. (2009), Managing the Risks of Climate Variability in Australian Agriculture:
Decision-Making in Agriculture Under Conditions of Uncertainty, Rural Industries
Research and Development Corporation, Barton.
Batterbury, S.P.J. and Mortimore, M.J. (2013), “Adapting to drought in the West African Sahel”,
in Boulter, S., Palutikof, J., Karoly, D. and Guitart, D. (Eds), Natural Disasters and
Adaptation to Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Belliveau, S., Bradshaw, B., Smit, B., Ried, S., Ramsey, D., Tarlton, M. and Sawyer, B. (2006),
“Farm-level adaptation to multiple risks: climate change and other concerns”, Department
of Geography Occasional Paper No. 27, University of Guelph, Guelph.
BoM (1967), “Rainfall deciles as drought indicators”, Bulletin No. 48, Bureau of Meteorology,
Melbourne.
BoM (2012), Climate Data Online, Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, available at: www.bom.
gov.au/climate/data/ (accessed 1 July 2012).
Bradshaw, B., Dolan, H. and Smit, B. (2004), “Farm-level adaptation to climatic variability and
change: crop diversification in the Canadian prairies”, Climatic Change, Vol. 67,
pp. 119-141.
Bryant, C.R., Singh, B., Thomassin, P. and Laurie, B. (1997), Vulne
´rabilite
´setadaptationaux
changements climatiques au Que
´bec au niveau de la ferme: lec¸ons tire
´es de la gestion du risque et
de l’adaptation a
`la variabilite
´climatique par les agriculteurs, Resources Naturelles, Canada.
IJCCSM
6,1
104
Bryant, C.R., Smit, B., Brklacich, M., Johnston, T.R., Smithers, J., Chiotti, Q. and Singh, B. (2000),
“Adaptation in Canadian agriculture to climate variability and change”, Climatic Change,
Vol. 45, pp. 181-201.
Burke, E.J., Brown, S.J. and Christidis, N. (2006), “Modeling the recent evolution of global drought
and projections for the 21st century with the Hadley Centre climate model”, Journal of
Hydrometeorology, Vol. 7, pp. 1113-1125.
Buys, L., Miller, E. and van Megan, K. (2012), “Conceptualising climate change in rural Australia:
community perceptions, attitudes and (in) actions”, Journal of Regional Environmental
Change, Vol. 12, pp. 237-248.
Cline, W.R. (2007), Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country, Centre for
Global Development and Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC.
CSIRO (2007), “Chapter 5: Regional climate change projections (drought, wind, fire weather)”,
Climate Change in Australia: Technical Report, CSIRO, Canberra.
Cullen, B.R., Eckard, R.J. and Rawnsley, R.P. (2012), “Resistance of pasture production to projected
climate changes in south-eastern Australia”, Crop & Pasture Science, Vol. 63, pp. 77-86.
Dairy Australia (2007), What Does Climate Change Mean for Dairy in Western Victoria?,
Dairy Australia, Melbourne.
Dairy Research and Development Corporation (2003), “Chapter 6 – Cleaning up”, CowTime –
Guidelines for Milk Harvesting, DRDC, Melbourne.
deVoil, P., Rossing, W.A.H. and Hammer, G.L. (2006), “Exploring profit – sustainability
trade-offs in cropping systems using evolutionary algorithms”, Environmental Modelling
& Software, Vol. 21 No. 9, pp. 1368-1374.
Diggs, D.M. (1991), “Drought experience and perception of climatic change among great plains
farmers”, Great Plains Research, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 114-132.
DSE (2008), Climate Change in the Corangamite Region, Department of Sustainability and
Environment, Melbourne.
Dyszynski, J. (2010), UNEP ADAPTCost Briefing Note: Economics of Climate Impacts and
Adaptation in Africa’s Agricultural Sector, Stockholm Environmental Institute, Oxford.
Fravel, S. and Ridley, L. (2012), Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance: 2010-11 Financial
Year, Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Melbourne.
Gunasekera, D., Yeaon, K., Tulloh, C. and Ford, M. (2007), “Climate change: impacts on
Australian agriculture”, Australian Commodities, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 657-676.
Hayman, P., Rebbeck, M. and Bellotti, B. (2008), “Managing the risk of climate change in the
SE region”, Report prepared for the ARC Linkage Grant, June.
Hennessy, K.J., Lucas, C., Nicholls, N., Bathols, J., Suppiah, R. and Ricketts, J. (2005), Climate
Change Impacts on Fire-Weather in South-East Australia, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric
Research, Aspendale.
Hennessy, K.J., Fawcett, R., Kirono, D., Mpelasoka, F., Jones, D., Bathols, J., Whetton, P., Stafford
Smith, M., Howden, M., Mitchel, C. and Plummer, N. (2008), An Assessment of the Impact of
Climate Change on the Nature and Frequency of Exceptional Climatic Events, Bureau of
Meteorology Climate and Ocean Services, Melbourne.
Hogan, A., Bode, A. and Berry, H.L. (2011a), “Farmer health and adaptive capacity in the face of
climate change and variability – part 2: contexts, personal attributes and behaviors”,
International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health, Vol. 8 No. 10, pp. 40 55-4068.
Hogan, A., Berry, H.L., Ng, S.P. and Bode, A. (2011b), Decisions Made by Farmers That Relate to
Climate Change, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Barton.
Perceptions
of climate
variability
105
Howden, M. and Jones, R.N. (2001), “Costs and benefits of CO
2
increase and climate change on
the Australian wheat industry”, Report to the Australian Greenhouse Office, Canberra.
Hughes, L. (2003), “Climate change and Australia: trends, projections and impacts”, Australian
Ecology, Vol. 28, pp. 423-443.
Iglesias, A., Avis, K., Benzie, M., Fisher, P., Harley, M., Hodgson, N., Horrocks, L. and Moneo, M.
(2007), “Adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector”, AGRI-2006-G4-05, Report
to European Commission Directorate.
IPCC (2007), “Understanding and attributing climate change”, in Solomon, S., Qin, D.,
Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K.B., Tignor, M. and Miller, H.L. (Eds),
Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Contribution of Working Group I to the
Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.
Jones, R.N. and Hennessy, K.J. (2000), Climate Change Impacts in the Hunter Valley: A Risk
Assessment of Heat Stress Affecting Dairy Cattle, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Aspendale.
Kiem, A.S., Askew, L.E., Sherval, M., Verdon-Kidd, D.C., Clifton, C., Austin, E., McGuirk, P.M.
and Berry, H. (2010), “Drought and the future of rural communities: drought impacts and
adaptation in regional Victoria, Australia”, Report for the National Climate Change
Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, Australia.
Leviston, Z., Leitch, A., Greenhill, M., Leonard, R. and Walker, I. (2011), “Australians’ views of
climate change”, CSIRO Report, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra.
Luo, Q., Bellotti, W., Williams, M., Cooper, I. and Bryan, B. (2007), “Risk analysis of possible
impacts of climate change on South Australian wheat production”, Climatic Change,
Vol. 85, pp. 89-101.
Maddison, D. (2006), “Perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa”, CEEPA
Discussion Paper No. 10, Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa,
University of Pretoria, Pretoria.
Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Reenberg, A. and Diouf, A. (2009), “Farmers’ perceptions of climate change
and agricultural adaptation strategies in rural Sahel”, Environmental Management,
Vol. 43, pp. 804-816.
Mortimore, M.J. (1989), Adapting to Drought: Farmers, Famines and Desertification in West
Africa, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Mpelasoka, F., Hennessy, K.J., Jones, R.N. and Bates, B. (2008), “Comparison of suitable drought
indices for climate change impacts assessment over Australia towards resource
management”, International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 28, pp. 1283-1292.
Mu
¨ller, C., Cramer, W., Hare, W.L. and Lotze-Campen, H. (2011), “Climate change risks for
African agriculture”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States
of America, Vol. 108 No. 11, pp. 4313-4315.
Nettle, R. and Lamb (2010), “Water security: how can extension work with farming
worldviews?”, Extension Farming Systems Journal, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 12-21.
Nyanga, P.H., Johnsen, F.H., Aune, J.B. and Kalinda, T.H. (2011), “Smallholder farmers’
perceptions of climate change and conservation agriculture: evidence from Zambia”,
Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 73-85.
Phelps, C., Watson, P. and Watson, D. (2012), Dairying for Tomorrow: Survey of Natural
Resource Management on Dairy Farms, Dairy Australia, Melbourne.
Richards, P. (2010), A Green Revolution from Below? Science and Technology for Global Food
Security and Poverty Alleviation, Wageningen University, Wageningen.
IJCCSM
6,1
106
Rickards, L. (2012), “Critical breaking point: the effects of climate variability, change and other
pressures on farm households”, Report for the Birchip Cropping Group and the
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform Australia.
Risbey, J., Kandlikar, M., Dowlatabadi, H. and Graetz, D. (1999), “Scale, context, and decision
making in Agricultural adaptation to climate variability and change”, Mitigation and
Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Vol. 4, pp. 137-165.
Schwartz, I., Greymore, M. and Brownell, B. (2011), The Victorian Farmer Survey on Climate
Change, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne.
Smit, B. and Skinner, M.W. (2002), “Adaptation options in agriculture to climate change:
a typology”, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Vol. 7, pp. 85-114.
Smit, B. and Wandel, J. (2006), “Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability”,
Global Environmental Change, Vol. 16, pp. 282-292.
Smit, B., McNabb, D. and Smithers, J. (1996), “Agricultural adaptation to climatic variation”,
Climatic Change, Vol. 33, pp. 7-29.
Smit, B., Burton, I., Klein, R.J.T. and Wandel, J. (2000), “An anatomy of adaptation to climate
change and variability”, Climatic Change, Vol. 4, pp. 223-251.
Stokes, S. and Howden, M. (Eds) (2011), “Adapting agriculture to climate change”,
Climate Change, Science and Solutions for Australia, CSIRO, Canberra.
Watterson, I., Whetton, P., Moise, A., Timbal, B., Power, S., Arblaster, J. and McInnes, K. (2007),
“Chapter 5 – Regional climate change projection (temperature and precipitation)”,
Climate Change in Australia: Technical Report, CSIRO, Canberra.
WestVic Dairy (2010), Dairy News, Vol. 156, p. 1.
White, N., Sutherst, R.W., Hall, N. and Whish-Wilson, P. (2003), “The vulnerability of the
Australian beef industry to impacts of the cattle tick (Boophilusmicroplus) under climate
change”, Climatic Change, Vol. 61 Nos 1/2, p. 1.
WIDCORP (2009), “Understanding farmer knowledge and attitudes to climate change, climate
variability and greenhouse gas emissions”, Water in Drylands Collaborative Research
Program, Victoria Department of Primary Industries, Melbourne.
(The) World Bank (2007), “Focus F: adaptation to and mitigation of climate change in
agriculture”, World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development, The World
Bank, Washington, DC.
About the authors
Iain R. Elgin-Stuczynski (BSc Honours, Geography, University of Melbourne) is an Analyst at
CBRE Agribusiness, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
Simon Batterbury (PhD, Geography, Clark University, USA) is an Associate Professor of
environmental studies at the University of Melbourne and has worked on agrarian change and
rural development in six countries since 1992. Simon Batterbury is the corresponding author and
can be contacted at: simonpjb@unimelb.edu.au
Perceptions
of climate
variability
107
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com
Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints

Supplementary resource (1)

... Based on the reviewed literature, it is clear that the weather today presents more and different challenges than it did in the past. These findings show that, overall, people quite accurately perceive the degree and magnitude of changes in the weather [32][33][34]. Case studies that used historical meteorological data for validation found that weather changes described by the community were generally correct [28,35,36]. This suggests that case study research have the potential to provide valuable information for climate change science, particularly in areas with limited longterm meteorological data. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the age of big data, case studies build the foundation for the large-scale models that are increasingly being used for decision and policymaking. In this systematic literature review, we investigated the geographic, methodological, and conceptual characteristics of case studies in climate change science to evaluate the extent they provide policy recommendations to answer the questions: how can researchers best gather and report policy-relevant information for climate change adaptation, resilience, and/or recovery? What are the current themes within the literature, and how can these areas best advance as policy-relevant fields within climate change science? Findings highlight that policy recommendations were more robust, and significantly more likely, in case studies that employ participatory research methods; and geographic characteristics and use of theoretical frameworks are associated with providing policy recommendations. On the other hand, studies that focus on biophysical parameters of climate change offered weak or no policy recommendations. Thus, we conclude that local-level case study research can serve as validation and calibration data for large-scale models as long as they accurately represent the local values and perceptions of the people in the study area. We elaborate on the opportunities that exist in non-human, biophysical, research for communicating findings to policy-friendly audiences.
... But majority of farmers still unable to perceived extreme weather conditions. Nevertheless, changes according to weather condition had increased profits, increased efficiency and was of benefit to their businesses (Elgin-Stuczynski and Batterbury, 2014) In Context of Developing Countries: Literature related to developing countries show a clear picture of cattle farmers from these countries. Cattle farming in developing countries are still done in traditional way. ...
Article
Full-text available
Global market economy has given rise to global organizations and thus a global workforce. Every company is faced with a greater challenge of developing its human resources for competitiveness sustainability. The dimension of human resource development has several variables of multiple nature and is interconnected with various approaches. Most of the studies on HRD have considered subsystems of HRD as the dimensions of human resource development like performance appraisal, potential appraisal, career planning, training & development coaching, employee welfare etc. Employee population components also influences human capital of an organization and employee turnover intentions. Dimensions of human resource development can be both quantitative and qualitative. This paper attempts to focus on quantitative aspects of HRD and its relationship with employee retention in IT sector in India with specific reference to Bangalore & Hyderabad.
... But majority of farmers still unable to perceived extreme weather conditions. Nevertheless, changes according to weather condition had increased profits, increased efficiency and was of benefit to their businesses (Elgin-Stuczynski and Batterbury, 2014) In Context of Developing Countries: Literature related to developing countries show a clear picture of cattle farmers from these countries. Cattle farming in developing countries are still done in traditional way. ...
Article
Full-text available
Global market economy has given rise to global organizations and thus a global workforce. Every company is faced with a greater challenge of developing its human resources for competitiveness sustainability. The dimension of human resource development has several variables of multiple nature and is interconnected with various approaches. Most of the studies on HRD have considered sub-systems of HRD as the dimensions of human resource development like performance appraisal, potential appraisal, career planning, training & development coaching, employee welfare etc. Employee population components also influences human capital of an organization and employee turnover intentions. Dimensions of human resource development can be both quantitative and qualitative. This paper attempts to focus on quantitative aspects of HRD and its relationship with employee retention in IT sector in India with specific reference to Bangalore & Hyderabad.
... Local communities' responses to changing socio-economic, environmental and political conditions include different forms of livelihood adaptations and coping strategies, and their ramifications on agricultural land use changes over time are far reaching. While many past studies of perception and responses/adaptations to change largely emphasise descriptions of change patterns and a comparison of these descriptions with official data to test the consistencies of these descriptions [8], this paper contributes to explore local resource users' evaluative modes of explaining causal relationships, predicting further changes, and responding to current and future changes. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study assesses the perceptions of local farming households in the savannahs of northeast Ghana about the patterns of ecological and social changes happening around them over the years. It then unpacks how those perceptions are influencing farming practices and agricultural land use changes. Theoretical and empirical understandings of the value of local resource users’ perceptual judgements about changes in their socio-ecological environment and how they respond to those changes have far-reaching implications for design of agricultural development and sustainable land management policies. Consideration of local perceptions offers more informed basis to design and implement agricultural development policies in ways that encourage active local participation, sustainable livelihoods development, and responsiveness to changing conditions. This departs from current conventional implementation systems, which are usually top-down and based on technical and political aspects of agricultural land management, but do not necessarily comprehend processes influencing the agency of local communities in shaping various agricultural land use outcomes.
... The impacts in the primary industries are already being experienced by stakeholders in horticulture and other sectors. Primary industry stakeholderssuch as farmers, local and federal governments and large corporationsare considering, and in many cases acting on, their adaptation options to effectively manage expected future climatic conditions (Buys et al., 2012;Loechel et al., 2013;Wheeler et al., 2013;Elgin-Stuczynski and Batterbury, 2014). Sectors with medium-to long-term planning horizons, such as horticulture and forestry, are the most likely to be severely affected by a lack of planning for climate change adaptation. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
To manage climate change, primary industry stakeholders require, and hence increasingly request, information about the likely future climate of their region. When providing future climate information, researchers have tended to assume which characteristics of the climate information are most useful to Users in the primary industries in assisting short- and long-term decision-making for climate change adaptation. Further, there is an implicit assumption that more detailed, more complex information is more useful for decision making – despite mounting evidence in the literature that this is not necessarily the case. This has created a disconnect between the supply of, and demand for, particular types of future climate information. This research uses viticulture as a case study of a primary industry sector that is sensitive to climatic variability and climate change to explore this disconnect. It compares Users’ and Providers’ perspectives on Users’ future climate information needs for climate change adaptation decision making, as well as their perspectives on whether those needs are being met. Mixed methods are applied to examine the characteristics of future climate information, including the spatial and temporal scales, which are most useful to Users in viticulture for decision making regarding climate change adaptation. Viticulture User participants from across Australia require different types and complexities of information depending on the application and whether the decision they are making is for the short- or long-term. For long-term decisions (greater than one year in the future), lower resolution (coarser detail) is considered acceptable; Users prefer to receive future climate information presented in the form of homoclimes or climate analogues; and for that information to be averaged over areas the size of growing regions. Climate information is wanted over time periods that are a maximum of five to twenty years into the future. For short-term decisions (less than one year in the future), these Users want higher resolution (finer detail) climate information, averaged over 1-10 km grids, up to one year in the future because of the short-term focus. Users’ and Providers’ perspectives were compared as to whether or not they felt that co-production of information between Providers and Users was occurring in their region and/or sector. This research suggests that the rhetoric of co-production does not yet match the on-ground reality. Concerted effort is required by both Providers and Users to overcome the barriers to better engage and co-produce information by better understanding the challenges each faces. This process could be overseen by boundary organisations which could use “boundary chains” to meet User needs while sharing and therefore minimising the costs amongst multiple organisations. Secure and on-going government funding (which could be channelled through boundary organisations) and, changes to the requirements to receive project funding, would provide necessary support and impetus to this process. This research will help bridge the gap between the future climate information that Users receive from Providers and inform the types and scales of future climate information that Users in the viticulture sector consider useful in supporting effective action to adapt to climate change. The findings of this research are expected to have application beyond the particular case study sector.
Article
Full-text available
Cattle are an integral part of agribusiness, and are sometimes used as a source of fund by farmers. A high percentage of poor households in the world depend on cattle for their livelihood. In the present study the word cattle is used for cows, buffalos and goats. The objectives of the present study were to explore and compare various risk factors involved in cattle farming, and major risk management strategies adopted by cattle farmers of developed and developing countries. The analysis is based upon 23 research papers from various National and International studies. This research work indicates that cattle farmers in developing countries are in a weaker position as compared to those of developed countries. Cattle farmers in developed countries have better monitoring risk factors and they act accordingly. They developed some rational mechanism to diversify the risk related to cattle farming. Cattle farmers in developing countries are still not aware about most of the options available for risk management as cattle insurance. At last but not the least this paper recommends some policy imprecations for effective implementation of various insurance and other risk management strategies for the benefit of cattle farmers.
Article
Full-text available
this article explains the relationship between land degradation and the farmer livelihood options. it is focused more on the effect of land degradation on farmers livelihood options
Article
Full-text available
50 days free at https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1abJ22eyKFZgaF ----While there is broad agreement in theory that farmers' expertise should be integrated into discussions of land management and climate change adaptation in the food system, it is unknown how much research practice has integrated these recommendations. To gauge the state of the field, we reviewed and coded a sample set of papers (n=105) concerning farmers' perceptions of climate change. Crosstabulation analysis reveals that: 1) re- searching farmer “perception” of climate change seems to be more frequent in the Global South, as opposed to the North, where other terms are used; 2) farmers are rarely described within their social-ecological contexts, and often simply have their observations segmented and assessed for verification against historical data or quantitative measurements; and 3) the broader dynamics of research practice may perpetuate extractive and colonial patterns of exchange between the Global North and South. We find that farmers from the Global South are rarely described, but often evaluated in their perceptions. We conclude that, with some exceptions, the field does not substantively embrace farmers’ perceptions as a contribution to adaptation discourse. We posit that the lack of in-depth qualitative methods in our sample may be correlated with the perception of farmers as passive and vulnerable, rather than viably adapting.
Chapter
Full-text available
Abstract: In the 1970s and 1980s, a fierce debate took place concerning the vulnerability and adaptive practices of farmers and herders in the West African Sahel, and the utility of concepts including ‘adaptation’ to drought. The region has had the most primary research conducted on drought vulnerability and response, and it is referred to as an archetype, notably in work on human security and famine. Some (eg Michael Watt’s ‘Silent Violence’ 1983) painted a gloomy picture of rural life, with farmers beset by brutal commodity markets and extractive governance stretching back over 100 years. Food shortage and famine was, for Watts, created by colonial policies and unequal access to resources. However others, for example Michael Mortimore (author of ‘Adapting to Drought’ 1989) found regardless of these threats households responded (adapted) to drought in innovative and largely successful ways: diversifying into livestock from farming, moving into labouring and small business activity, and finally considering some temporary outmigration to less affected or more affluent regions to provide remittances. Reversible adaptations occurred before less reversible ones. In this chapter we argue that adaptation is socially mediated, not always successful, and is linked into broader political and economic forces. Its utility as a concept is constrained if wedded to Darwinian uses.’Productive Bricolage’ characterizes livelihoods, with different responses pursued at the same time, and for different lengths of time. Development projects can assist community resilience and individual response to food crises, but in unexpected ways. Our findings from fieldwork in Niger, Burkina and Nigeria are discussed and linked to the new preoccupation of the millennium; ‘climate adaptation’. New research on adaptation in semi arid regions urgently needs to learn from this vast reservoir of contextual knowledge in the African drylands, some of it dating back over 40 years. Sahel, drought, adaptation to climate change, productive bricolage
Article
Full-text available
Adaptation to climate variability and change is important both for impact assessment (to estimate adaptations which are likely to occur) and for policy development (to advise on or prescribe adaptations). This paper proposes an "anatomy of adaptation" to systematically specify and differentiate adaptations, based upon three questions: (i) adapt to what? (ii) who or what adapts? and (iii) how does adaptation occur? Climatic stimuli include changes in long-term mean conditions and variability about means, both current and future, and including extremes. Adaptation depends fundamentally on the characteristics of the system of interest, including its sensitivities and vulnerabilities. The nature of adaptation processes and forms can be distinguished by numerous attributes including timing, purposefulness, and effect. The paper notes the contribution of conceptual and numerical models and empirical studies to the understanding of adaptation, and outlines approaches to the normative evaluation of adaptation measures and strategies.
Article
Full-text available
2011 doi:10.5539/jsd.v4n4p73 The study was conducted under Conservation Agriculture Programme in Zambia funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Lusaka to Conservation Farming Unit. The views expressed in this paper are not of the sponsors but the authors. Abstract Actors involved in promoting conservation agriculture have often not taken into account perceptions of smallholder farmers of climate change and conservation agriculture as an adaptation strategy. This study documents smallholder farmers' perceptions of climate change and conservation agriculture. Most farmers attributed climate change to supernatural forces. Smallholder farmers' perceptions related to floods and droughts were significantly associated with adoption of conservation agriculture. The extent to which smallholder farmers perceived conservation agriculture as a climate change adaptation strategy was very low. This suggests existence of other important reasons for practicing conservation agriculture than adaptation to climate change. Policy implications of the study are: conservation agriculture projects should not only focus on technical approaches to increase adoption rates but also consider social aspects such as perceptions that are equally important in conservation agriculture. Inclusion of climate change communication to facilitate exchange of climatic information that could enable smallholder farmers relate to conservation agriculture as an adaptation strategy is essential.
Article
Full-text available
Among other foci, recent research on adaptation to climatic variability and change has sought to evaluate the merit of adaptation generally, as well as the suitability of particular adaptations. Additionally, there is a need to better understand the likely uptake of adaptations. For example, diversification is one adaptation that has been identified as a potential farm-level response to climatic variability and change, but its adoption by farmers for this reason is not well understood. This paper serves two purposes. The first is to document the adoption of crop diversification in Canadian prairie agriculture for the period 1994–2002, reflect upon its strengths and limitations for managing a variety of risks, including climatic ones, and gauge its likely adoption by producers in response to anticipated climate change. The second purpose is to draw on this case to refine our current understanding of climate change adaptation more generally. Based upon data from over 15 000 operations, it was determined that individual farms have become more specialized in their cropping patterns since 1994, and this trend is unlikely to change in the immediate future, notwithstanding anticipated climate change and the known risk-reducing benefits of crop diversification. More broadly, the analysis suggests that ‘suitable’ and even ‘possible’ climate change adaptations need to be more rigorously assessed in order to understand their wider strengths and limitations.
Article
» Agriculture plays an important role in the global and Australian economies. However, potential changes in climate may reduce productivity and output in agricultural industries in major producing countries, including Australia, in the medium to long term. » ABARE analysis indicates that future climate changes and associated declines in agricultural productivity and global economic activity may affect global production of key commodities: for example, global wheat, beef, dairy and sugar production could decline by 2-6 per cent by 2030 and by 5-11 per cent by 2050, relative to what would otherwise have been the case (the 'reference case'). » Furthermore, Australian production of these commodities could decline by an estimated 9-10 per cent by 2030 and 13-19 per cent by 2050, relative to the reference case. » These changes would also have significant implications for international agricultural trade. For example, Australian agricultural exports of key commodities are projected to decline by 11-63 per cent by 2030 and by 15-79 per cent by 2050, relative to the reference case. » Australia is projected to be one of the most adversely affected regions from future changes in climate in terms of reductions in agricultural production and exports. » There is a continuing need for the agriculture sector to maintain strong productivity growth in order to cope with the potential pressures emerging from climate change. In this context, adaptation measures, including improved agricultural technologies, will be particularly important in reducing the potential impacts. » There is also an urgent need for policies that encourage rather than impede adjustment in vulnerable sectors in agriculture, including already marginal farming enterprises. » In order to respond to climate change in an efficient manner and maintain and enhance the productivity and international competitiveness of Australian industries, further research and development is required in both climate change adaptation and mitigation technologies and measures.
Article
Available for download at: https://ebooks.publish.csiro.au/content/adapting-agriculture-climate-change Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change is a fundamental resource for primary industry professionals, land managers, policy makers, researchers and students involved in preparing Australia’s primary industries for the challenges and opportunities of climate change. More than 30 authors have contributed to this book, which moves beyond describing the causes and consequences of climate change to providing options for people to work towards adaptation action. Climate change implications and adaptation options are given for the key Australian primary industries of horticulture, forestry, grains, rice, sugarcane, cotton, viticulture, broadacre grazing, intensive livestock industries, marine fisheries, and aquaculture and water resources. Case studies demonstrate the options for each industry. Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change summarises updated climate change scenarios for Australia with the latest climate science. It includes chapters on socio-economic and institutional considerations for adapting to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions sources and sinks, as well as risks and priorities for the future. Table of Contents: 1. Introduction By SM Howden and CJ Stokes 2. Climate Projections By KJ Hennessy, PH Whetton and B Preston 3. Grains 4. Cotton By MP Bange, GA Constable, D McRae and G Roth 5. Rice By DS Gaydon, HG Beecher, R Reinke, S Crimp and SM Howden 6. Sugarcane By SE Park, S Crimp, NG Inman-Bamber and YL Everingham 7. Winegrapes By L Webb, GM Dunn and EWR Barlow 8. Horticulture By L Webb and PH Whetton 9. Forestry By TH Booth, MUF Kirschbaum and M Battaglia 10. Broadacre Grazing By CJ Stokes, S Crimp, R Gifford, AJ Ash and SM Howden 11. Intensive Livestock Industries By CJ Miller, SM Howden and RN Jones 12. Water Resources By RN Jones 13. Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture By AJ Hobday and ES Poloczanska 14. Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and Mitigation Options By JC Carlyle, E Charmley, JA Baldock, PJ Polglase and B Keating 15. Enhancing Adaptive Capacity By NA Marshall, CJ Stokes, SM Howden and RN Nelson 16. Summary By CJ Stokes and SM Howden 17. Looking Forward By AJ Ash, CJ Stokes and SM Howden 18. Frequently Asked Questions By CJ Stokes and SM Howden
Article
This study presents a model-based risk assessment of wheat production under projected climate change by 2080 in eight locations of South Australia. The vulnerability of wheat production under future climate change was quantitatively evaluated via a risk analysis in which the identification of critical yield thresholds applies. Research results show that risk (conditional probability of not exceeding the critical yield thresholds) increased more or less across all locations under the most likely climate change. Wheat production in drier areas such as Minnipa, Orroroo and Wanbi will not be economically viable under the most likely climate change. Intensive studies on adaptation are now required.