FARMERS in Western Australian agricultural areas now have access to more information about the likely effects of climate change following the release of a series of notes on climate adaptation by the Department of Agriculture and Food.
The department’s Practices and Systems Innovation Manager David Bowran said climate change was already affecting agriculture through drier seasons, but individual growers had shown a strong ability to adapt.
“Computer modelling indicates that the next two decades will present many climate challenges in all agricultural regions,” Dr Bowran said.
“We hope these publications will promote planning for climate change and greater discussion of both the risks and opportunities.”
The climate projections used by the department are based on worst case scenario modelling by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and CSIRO as atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions are tracking to this scenario.
In the next 20 years, rainfall from May to October is modelled to be 10 to 20 per cent less over most agricultural areas. This would follow similar percentage declines that occurred from 1976 to 2008 as compared to the period from 1910 to 1975.
The overall effect was shifting existing climate zones to the south and west, Dr Bowran said.
“Mean temperatures are mostly expected to be 1 to 2 degrees warmer,” he said. “The combination of increased warmth plus less rain has the potential to have a significant effect on plant and animal production.”
A broad range of impacts have been identified in the Farmnotes and a range of possible adaptation responses also outlined.
Farmnotes 411 to 415 can be downloaded from the department’s website at www.agric.wa.gov.au/publications