University of Tasmania

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Preparing Australian dairy businesses for extreme and more variable climates - a research project integrating economic, biophysical and social aspects

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 12:39 authored by Hayman, G, Matthew HarrisonMatthew Harrison, Cullen, B, Ayre, M, Armstrong, D, Mason, W, Richard RawnsleyRichard Rawnsley, Nettle, R, Beilin, R, Waller, S, Phelps, C
The Australian dairy industry has put significant e ort into exploring the potential impacts of climate change, however four key limitations remain:
1. Climate change is only one of many drivers that influence the dairy business, other economic and social drivers must also be considered in any system analysis.
2. Current (rather than future) farming systems have been ëtested’ using predicted future climates.
3. Average predicted changes in temperature and rainfall is the focus of most research. The challenge to farming businesses is the impact of extremes, increased variability, the sequencing of climate events and the emergence of tipping points and/or unexpected vulnerabilities.
4. Strategies to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change have not been cross matched to understand the trade-o s and impacts on other business risks within the whole farm system.
To inform future investment it is critical that the Australian dairy industry fully explores the impacts of climate extremes and a more variable climate. Using three dairy businesses in diff ering regions, a range of farm development options will be explored - some options will push the boundaries of current farming practice, but all will retain economic and social reality. Biophysical and economic modelling, social research and farmer engagement will assist to identify farm management responses that make economic sense and build human and biophysical capability to manage a more challenging future.
The project examines:
1. Trade-o s between profitability, risk, social impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with realistic farm development options across farming systems.
2. Potential impacts of climate variability and extreme events on economic, biophysical and social aspects of farm development options.
3. Management options that provide the most eff ective adaptation and mitigation outcomes.
4. Skills and industry support systems required to build capacity to respond, considering the reduced decision making capacity that accompanies increased uncertainty.
Preliminary research demonstrates that increased periods of drought as well as more intense rainfall events will reduce median pasture production by up to 31% in Southern Australia, whereas more frequent exposure to heat waves will reduce pasture and milk production by as much as 28% and 20%, respectively. The combined e ffect of extended periods of drought, more intense rainfall events, longer heat waves and increased frequencies of hot days will reduce pasture production by up to 36%. Future work will examine how these impacts influence the temporal sequence of annual farm revenue and possible social consequences of risk perception and farm adaptation to extreme climatic events.


Department of Agriculture


Publication title

Livestock, Climate Change and Food Security 2014


Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Livestock, Climate Change and Food Security

Place of publication


Event title

Livestock, Climate Change and Food Security 2014

Event Venue

Madrid, Spain

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)

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