BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Apr 2 02:02:56 CEST 2008


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Farming in a changing climate was the theme at the recent GRDC supported
WANTFA Conference in Perth.


Associate Professor Ross Kingwell, Chief Economist with DAFWA, addressed the
economics of climate change and the implications for growers.


He pointed out that projected climate change is a big challenge for farmers
and scientists because growing conditions in many parts of the traditional
grainbelt of WA could become less favourable. 


WA is a major source of the nation’s grain exports, so responding to the
climate change challenge is in the national interest.


Professor Kingwell said many farms have diversified, with portfolios of
on-farm enterprises and off-farm investments, yet accompanying this
diversity is a skewed distribution of wealth and farm size. This has
implications for the sector’s response to climate change.


Large businesses may be better able to spatially diversify, giving them the
potential to capitalise on, or modify, climate change and variability


The way forward for growers was to ensure their capacity to adapt was not
impaired. In the near term this meant improved options for managing current
climate variability.


He pointed to the need for collaboration between scientists and farmers to:
deliver more efficient water use; deliver new varieties with greater
drought, heat-shock and pest and disease resistance; reduce crop production
risk by staggered planting, better erosion control, minimal soil disturbance
and crop residue retention; facilitate crop operations via better weather


Professor Kingwell said simulation and projection studies show a “complex
spatial story”, where climate change impacts could vary greatly across
regions, with some facing much bigger climate challenges than others.


If the rate of climate change was faster than has been suggested, the
ability of farm businesses to adjust and remain profitable would be a real


He suggested that grower reliance on regionally relevant, climate related
and anticipatory R&D will increase.  Appropriate innovation and adjustment
will be the keys to successful farming in the face of climate change, he


The Crop Doctor is GRDC Managing Director, Peter Reading, Tel 02 6166 4500

Further Information: Associate Professor Ross Kingwell, Tel 08 9368 3225

GRDC REF: CDApril081.doc/Blumenthal280308

Brendon Cant & Associates
Public Relations & Marketing 
Suite 5
4 Gugeri St
Claremont WA 6010
Tel 08 9384 1122


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