Wheat and Sheep Production in a Changing Climate: South Australia

DAFF - Bureau of Meterology, Bureau of Rural Sciences

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This case study is now 10 years old, but the information is still relevant in terms of the adaptions needed for the changing climate.

What is the problem?

  • Climate change threatens the productivity of Australia’s wheat and sheep industries.
  • It reduces the value of historical climate knowledge and increases uncertainty about the bounds of future climates, making farm decisions more complex.
  • While Australian farmers are already adapting to a highly variable climate, adapting to significant climate change is a challenge.

What did the research involve?

  • A case study of the Lower Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Upper South East regions of SA.

What were the key findings?

  • By 2030, these regions are likely to experience an increase in temperature of at least 0.6°C and a decrease in rainfall of at least 2% (compared to 1980–99 averages).
  • By 2070 temperatures could be 1.5–3°C higher and rainfall could be 5–20% lower.
  • Predicted wheat yields across South Australia in 2080 could be 5–41% lower if adaptation strategies are not implemented.

Final Comment

  • Climate change is likely to have some negative impacts on the South Australian wool and sheep meat industry. These include lower wool production, more heat stress, less reproduction, and lower growth rates.
  • Adaptation strategies are available to help wheat and sheep producers offset the negative impacts of climate change. These strategies involve modifying current management practices to reduce the risks associated with climate variability.
2008 - Australia - DAFF - Bureau of Meterology, Bureau of Rural Sciences
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