Adapting to climate change
What can I do to reduce the direct on farm impacts and adapt to a changing climate?
Dairy farmers have been adapting to changing climatic and business circumstances for many years, and the inherent variability of the climate has driven many innovative practices.
The Dairy Australia toolkit provides information to assist you to adapt and reduce the impacts.
DEC Staff can also provide information and services to assist farmers to adapt to climate change, and there are a range of associated programs and research activities.
In the short term key strategies would include many actions that dairy farmers are already adopting and implementing to deal with the inherent variability of climate, such as:
- A diverse feed base provides flexibility to take advantage of rainfall when it occurs as opposed to a reliance on one or two species limited to a particular growing season. This may include a shift towards annual crops and pastures where pasture persistence is a problem.
- Shade, sprinklers, timing of activities can all help to reduce heat stress. The Cool Cows program provides information on managing heat stress
- Securing supplementary feeds through use of forward contracts
- Ensuring your farm is water efficient, and you have sufficient and secure supplies of water available to meet your needs and those of your stock. Shade can help significantly here as it reduces daily stock drinking requirements.
A range of case studies are available that demonstrate farmers taking action to adapt to climate change.
It is important for farmers to:
- know the risks, plan ahead and allow time for implementation, rather than needing to undertake poorly thought-out actions or ad-hoc responses in times of crisis or when finally forced to.
- assess any adaptation strategy in context of their own personal and farm business goals, and
- focus on what they can control.