Transcript of the embedding climate adaptation into agriculture in north east Victoria webinar

Heather Field:

Today our webinar is on embedding climate adaptation into agriculture in North East Victoria. In this webinar Lachlan will share how the embedding climate adaption into agriculture project has used climate change projections and applied these to assess potential impacts on agriculture production in North East Victoria.

Heather Field:

Lachlan will share the spatial tools and engagement approach that have been developed, which help guide discussions about climate adaptation pathways. Lachlan is the Regional Agriculture Land Care Facilitator for the North East, and the project leader for the Embedding Climate Adaptation in Agriculture Project, funded through the National Land Care Project. Lachlan has 15 years' experience working on a range of projects supporting sustainable agriculture, and is passionate about agriculture, community resilience, community leadership, and supporting landholders to make good decisions. And I'll now pass over to you, Lachlan.

Lachlan Campbell:

Fantastic, thank you very much, Heather. And I really appreciate the invitation to come and speak with your group today. And thank you, Jemma, and also Graeme Anderson. I'll go into some further thank you’s at the end of the presentation.

Lachlan Campbell:

Welcome to this presentation. I'm sitting in Wangaratta today, and our area goes from Omeo, Corryong, to Wangaratta. And so we are very fortunate in this area that we were able to access some funding from the Australian government to support a project that looked into how climate change modelling, and climate change, might affect our agricultural sector in North East Victoria.

Lachlan Campbell:

It's around trying to build the capacity of our communities, private sector, government and so forth. How we can build capacity around the expected changes that might occur in our climate through to 2050. The project I'm going to talk about primarily today is the first year's work. However, I will then lead on to what's happening in years two, three, four of the project.

Lachlan Campbell:

The project was a great opportunity to bring people together as a multidisciplinary approach to, I guess understanding and providing information to landholders in our region about how climate is potentially going to change, and how the agronomy of those industries in our region might be affected. And I'd also like to big shout-out to the Australian government for their support through the National Land Care Program, who have funded this project and has allowed us to undertake this specialized bit of work for our region.

Lachlan Campbell:

I guess in opening, there's no such thing as a new idea. And so what we tried to do was understand what the opportunities were to use modern technology and innovation in drawing out what the key threats or changes are that might occur in agriculture. And using spatial mapping and so forth to be able to put them on the screen and take potential people who might use this information on a bit of a journey, if you like.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, when I say there's nothing new in the world, I'd like to acknowledge the work the Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance did with their Agricultural Smart Project. And largely, our project here was modelled generally on what that achieved, but I like to think ours is a Tesla project, in its new invigorative, and took on what the best was that was available. It used the work they did as a foundation, but I think we've taken it to another level. They worked with seven local governments and five sectors.

Lachlan Campbell:

Our project is a partnership, as I say is really a partnership, Ag Vic, DELWP, CSIRO, the IPC, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, local government, and a whole range of ... and six industries, cropping, forestry, grazing, horticulture, dairy, and viticulture. We also worked with six local governments who are represented in our region.

Lachlan Campbell:

I guess underpinning this project, we were still in a drought. We're very much halfway through the last drought. We've experienced sort of the season of 18, 19, and almost into 20. And so, what we wanted to do was try and engage with farmers in our region who might be able to contribute to, I guess the beneficial outcome of this project and add value. And I guess the call that went out to farmers who participated was around, "I want eight hours of your time for 12 months." And we wanted to try and approach those farmers who we thought were in the sort of top 20% of farming in our region.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, I guess the premise behind that was, we feel that the top 10%, if you like, top 20% are already working through the risk management associated with climate change. And they're doing it so well that in fact that is the reason why they are in the top 20% is they manage risks really well. They're incredibly observant. They monitor and evaluate. And we wanted to get their collective views about, what were the key thresholds or tipping points for the industries that they participated in?

Lachlan Campbell:

The project had to pass the PUB test because credibility is everything in this conversation. If we lack credibility, I think people lose interest pretty quickly. We wanted to have leaders and trusted people involved, so that they are people that people want to be involved with and understand how they run their operations. Local government was incredibly supportive. And we wanted to embed the project in other activities that were going on at the time and are still are going on. The Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance, the work that DELWP's doing, the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has done a lot of work in resilience planning, and Agriculture Victoria.

Lachlan Campbell:

The project outputs are really important. And so, we wanted to use the best available data. We're very fortunate, Agriculture Victoria supported this project through Craig Beverley primarily, and Graeme Anderson. Craig's work around modelling, he's been doing it for a long time. And he was able to help us identify the most current data from the CSIRO, and also the models that were appropriate for the needs we had. Craig's done a lot of work in modelling around agriculture. And so, I'll go through the modelling model shortly. But he was able to adapt those to the needs we had.

Lachlan Campbell:

We set out to do three periods. We looked at 1985 to 2005 as the baseline, merely for the fact we want to try and pick up part of the millennial drought. And then we looked out to 2030 and 2050. Interestingly enough, 2030's nearly upon us. We used the CSIRO data that they've developed. And so, that gives trust. People are trusting of the brand CSIRO and the information that comes out of there. We wanted to build on farmers' curiosity and their need to sort of unpack and identify where the issues and opportunities lie with climate. We wanted to establish a web base, so it's easy to access and to navigate. And we thought it was a foundation for an ongoing conversation with our community.

Lachlan Campbell:

I'll delve into the ongoing projects that are going to fall out of this, adaptation pathways, leadership training, and so forth. And I just wanted to mention, it's all about partnerships. This project has only been as good as the partnerships that contributed to it. And I'll go through those towards the end of the slideshow. But largely, everyone we approached was incredibly supportive, people and institutions, in supporting this project. And that contributed to the richness, I think, and the depth of what I'm about to explain. Everyone was happy to work as a collective. And I guess, I'm told that this was fairly pioneering in its approach, in the fact that we were able to get the private sector and the public sector working so closely together to understand the issues and opportunities I mentioned earlier.

Lachlan Campbell:

One last message, I would say, when you're working in the area of climate is, be patient. Change is occurring and it will occur. Nothing happens overnight. And I think the change that is occurring is pretty phenomenal. And as I say, those top 20% of farmers are already doing it. I think there's a lawnmower going. Excuse me for a sec. So, as I mentioned earlier, this project utilized the most recent CSIRO climate change projections that were available at the time. This was finished up in November 2019, so it's very current.

Lachlan Campbell:

The spatial tools, we were very fortunate enough to have Spatial Vision on board, which are the company that specializes in the development of spatial tools. And in fact, they won an Australian award for the work they did in this project, which was very exciting. So, we were able to use that to model the impacts and have that interface with people who might use this information. And there's a bit of a shout out, if you'd like to go to our climate tool at the North East CMA website.

Lachlan Campbell:

I guess we used the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change RCP 8.5. it was their model. That's where they think the climate is going to be in 2100. And this is the concentration of C02 up the scale. And so, I guess that's pretty extreme. And I guess I'll mention in a sec, modelling is not a precise science, fair to say. And there's a lot of modelling gone into the back of this. And I guess we just need to be aware when we're talking with community that it's not absolute truth. But it's the best we've got to work with. And I think that's where you've got to aim for.

Lachlan Campbell:

I want to go through this slide here, it's really important. There's lots of climate modelling going on. And you'll hear about it pretty much every day in the news or some other forum. But what we did in this project, we set out to try and access those top 20% of farmers I mentioned. And so, ultimately, we worked with six industries, so dairy, grazing, cropping, horticulture, which was cherries, chestnuts, viticulture, and forestry. And also, local government.

Lachlan Campbell:

And I guess this slide's really important because what's important to one sector isn't important to another sector. There's the mower. Oh my god. So, I guess what we wanted to do was sit down with each of those sectors and map out, tease out, what were the key thresholds or the key tipping points they had for activities that they thought the climate would affect? And you'll see in this circle here, so dairy, for instance, days with temperatures less than 13 degrees, days with temperatures minimum less than 7.2 and so forth. Dairy thought they were all really important. But then you look at grazing beside it, and only two of those four were important issues to them. I'm so sorry about this lawnmower. It's either a dog or a chopper or a lawnmower.

Heather Field:

It's all good, Lachlan. Yeah. We can't really hear it, so you're fine. And let me know when you'd like me to do that poll for you too.

Lachlan Campbell:

Yes, gosh. Sorry, yes. All right. So, yeah, that slide's really important. So, we sat down with each of those industries, there was about 10 representatives from each of those sectors involved in the conversation to map out what's important to them. You'll see over on the right hand side, the local government one. We felt that the data, and it proved true, that the data that local government needs to know about human health and consecutive days of heat and so forth, are equally as important to them as it is to farmers.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, this was a useful tool for local government to tease this out. Interestingly enough, local government are taking this to a more intense sort of exploration at this point. But this was an interesting way to start this conversation. Now, two slides ago, I was supposed to put up a poll for you. Now, Heather's got a ... We've developed a poll. And I guess the poll is around the conversation of trying to understand your tolerance for weather forecasting. So, can we do that, Heather? What do I need to do?

Heather Field:

Yep, I'll put that on now. So, everyone should see the poll pop up on their screen. So, if you're on a PC, it'll appear on potentially the right hand side of your screen. And if you're on an iPad or a phone, it'll appear in the middle. You'll see the question there, Lachlan. You can read that out.

Lachlan Campbell:

All right, yeah. So, the example here I want to use is, you're going to ring a friend and you want to commit to a bike ride. And you're going to commit 100%, you can't bail out. You've got to do it. And so, this is spring. It should be 2019, because you can't go for a bike ... Well, you can go for a bike ride, but I don't know if you can go with a friend. But anyway, nonetheless. So, the theme is here, I want to try and understand your tolerance for weather forecasts and how far out you're willing to commit to undertaking a task that would involve doing something outside.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, the examples I use here are real life examples. And these, I want to try and ... you to vote for me, if you would, about which one of those options you'd be most likely to take? Would you go on a bike ride with a one day forecast, commit 100% to it? Would you use a four day forecast from the BOM and say, "I'm not going to go. I'm not willing to commit outside that four days. I'm happy to listen to the BOM forecast and commit 100%. But any longer than that, I'm not comfortable." Would you be happy to use a seven day Elders weather forecast as a determinant of the success or failure of your bike ride? Then you go out to a 10 day forecast. There's a Danish weather site, yr.no. And then, Weatherzone has a 14 day forecast. And then, My Weather goes 20 days. And then, Dale Gray might give you a 90 day one.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, what I'm trying to understand there is, what's your belief and tolerance for weather forecasting? So, I'm going to ask you to vote, if you wouldn't mind? So, just select one of those and then submit, if you wouldn't mind? And Heather, if we leave that open for another 20 seconds, is that okay?

Heather Field:

Yeah, sure. We've got 100 people online and we've had about 75% complete. So, I'll just leave it for a couple more seconds, only a few more to go.

Lachlan Campbell:

Right. Now, the importance of this is really about how we are happy to look at climate modelling, if you like. And I guess, I'm sorry, I normally do this a couple of slides earlier. But the conversation, when you're having this conversation in a room with farmers or community members and you're talking about these climate projections, I think sometimes we go in with, this is the truth. But fundamentally ... If you close that now, Heather. From this process, I can get a bit of a sense about what your tolerance is for weather forecasting. So, how does that look, Heather? Can you ... All right. That's pretty clear to me. The BOM forecast has about 60%. Is that how I read it, Heather?

Heather Field:

Yes.

Lachlan Campbell:

60% of our audience today is happy to go with a four day forecast. So, that's interesting because that's the figure I normally get. Although, at Corryong, I got one day. And I think somewhere else I got six days or something. So, four days is about the general one. In fact, one of the senior members from the BOM was in a group I spoke to one day. And he said four days was about as far as he was willing to go, so I figure that was fair for me too.

Lachlan Campbell:

But the interesting thing is, when we have these conversations with farming groups, we're wanting them to trust us to go out to 2030 and 2050, when 60% of the audience today said they would be unlikely to trust a weather forecast any more than four days. And I think this is a great example of the disconnect sometimes we have when we're having these conversations with community is, they're only willing to look at a model weather forecast for four days. And we're wanting them to make major capital investments or strategic investments around 20 or 30 years out.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, I guess we just have to be very careful in that context that, when we have these conversations, getting community to trust us is one of the key outcomes, I think. And so, how we pitch this to them, we really need to ground it in these key agricultural, if you like, yeses or nos in this chart that I've got in front of you. I think, fundamentally, if we can say that, "Look we've sat down with a group of industry people, these are what are the key thresholds." And have that conversation with them about how climate might affect those, that gets them thinking.

Lachlan Campbell:

All right. So, the general observations from our region is generally hotter in all months, especially summer. Three more days about 35 degrees, and so on. I guess, you've got to consider, our region picks up the Australian Alps too. So, they really throw our figures around. If you're in the Wimmera or someone else, it would be a far clearer picture. But having the Alps, we go from an altitude of sort of 100 meters at Rutherglen up to, I think it's 2000 odd meters in Mount Feathertop or Mount Bogong. And so, therefore, our figures are a little disjointed. And you've got to look at it in the context of where you are in the landscape.

Lachlan Campbell:

And this is a slide that's really important, I think. It's around managing expectations around the modelling. And I guess it's pretty clear to me that modelling, as I said earlier, is not a precise science. And we need to manage people's understanding and knowledge of modelling and what it means for them. And so, I think this slide's really important. The other thing about this project we did, and I think Craig supports this absolutely, is that the climate modelling we've done does not pick up extreme events. And so, you can have extreme events, flood, heat, cold obviously, and so forth. It's very hard to pick up those events. So, that's something we need to make really clear. And obviously people would love to be able to pick up those intense events. And I'm led to believe they're very difficult to model, because then you could align all the emergency services and so forth around those.

Lachlan Campbell:

A nice quote I read on the weekend, "It's better to be mostly right than precisely wrong." And I think that sort of really is the story around trying to support our community adapt their systems to the effects of climate change. It's about getting things right or giving them the opportunity to think through the flexibility in their systems to manage what might occur.

Lachlan Campbell:

This is a systems map, if you like, of the models we used and the process we undertook. Craig Beverly would be far better placed than me to talk about these. But basically, DairyMod and GrassGro are well accepted models that MLA and Dairy Australia use. The CAT modelling is broader and picks up other environmental things, and pretty much was pretty fundamental to the modelling that was undertaken here. There's the area of study for us. And that's our CMA boundary, if you like. And as I said, it goes from Mount Bogong in the centre, roughly, down to Rutherglen in the north, and Omeo in the South East.

Lachlan Campbell:

The grid on the side, so we did this down to five kilometre grids. We felt that was ... We're very comfortable with that, because the computing power if you go smaller than that is far greater. But also, the fact is, we didn't want land managers having absolutely precise figures for their own farm. It's more of a generalization. And I guess that's part of the conversation. It's very hard to be specific when it comes to modelling. And so, five kilometres gives you that variance. The downside about five kilometres is, in the north east, you can be next to Mount Buffalo, which has a plateau, I think of about 1,800 meters or something, or I think it's slightly less, 1,500 meters. But beside that, you can have river flats at 200 meters. So, it does throw it. So, it's not ideal.

Lachlan Campbell:

But we figured it was better to have that imprecise, if you like, for the conversation, than farmers to be able to drill down in their specific farms. These are some of the examples that can come out of it. So, this is days with rain above 10 millimetres. And I think, fundamentally, agricultural community, 10 millimetres is the minimum you need to get some water infiltration and so forth. So, they're the three years. The grey is the historic. The blue is 2030 and the red is 2050. And so, you can see there's a trend there, potentially down in spring. But maybe we'll get more autumn rain.

Lachlan Campbell:

Now, you've got to remember, this includes The Alps, this slide. So, the change is interesting. So, this is more than three days above 40 degrees in a row. I think, no, it's not in a row, it's over summer, sorry. And so, you can see there, there's quite an incremental change, isn't there? Between the historic, the 2030 and the 2050. That is the whole catchment. And so, that's why you've gone from sort of 0.02 to 0.14. If you did that for, say Wangaratta or Wodonga, obviously you'd get a far different picture.

Lachlan Campbell:

And this is heat stress, this is a really important one. You know those hot summer days where you get the minimum's above 20 and the maximum's above 35? They're terrible days if you're in horticulture or livestock. It's sapping, really, even as a human being, they're sapping. And so, we tried to map out ... And that was really important to dairy farmers, actually, and horticulture, those figures. And so, we tried to map out what the occurrence of those was. And just please remember, that's for our whole catchment, those figures there, on an average.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, what came out of the modelling is, there are winners and losers, as there are in many parts of life. And I just want to look at canola and wheat here, for instance, as an example. Interestingly enough, the north east gets a lot of rain. And rainfall is not the limiting factor in a lot of cases for our crops. And that was very apparent in this. Even under a climate change scenario, we still get ample rain for a number of crops and pastures, for that matter.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, I just want to explore the two here, there's canola and wheat. And so, they're usually the rotation in the lower parts of our catchment. And so, it was interesting to tease out what it might mean for these two commodities. I guess, here's canola, historic one, so that's '85 to 2005. They're roughly the tons per hectare. So, let's say for Rutherglen, it could be ... I think it's 1.7 to 2.2 looking at that. And then you go to the map beside it, that's 2030. And you'll see there that canola yield's in fact modelled to increase. And that's a matter of rainfall, temperature, frost, and so forth. There's a whole lot that goes in behind that modelling. So, there's a winner. Canola's potentially a winner for our region, interestingly enough.

Lachlan Campbell:

The next one is around wheat. So, wheat there is about 3.5, I think it is, loosely. It's in the green, anyway. That's the historic. Then you go out to 2030, and look at the reduction. It's quite significant. And then you go out to 2050, it's even more so, particularly around that Rutherglen, the plains country, as we call it in the north east. So, that in itself is fascinating, you know? You can start to think about crop rotations and yield production and so forth. Interesting conversation starter when you're in a room of grain growers.

Lachlan Campbell:

Another interesting part, and I'm not going through the whole package of information. But another interesting part was around the water balance. And this was a bit of neat work that Craig was able to draw out from the modelling was around the water in our region. And it's such a significant part of our north east CMA. We supply 38% of the Murray Darling Basin from north east CMA boundary within that. And then if you couple that with the Goulburn Broken CMA, it's about 50% of the Murray Darling Basin comes out of our catchments. So, this is a fascinating bit of work in as much as ... And it's not new work, let me say. DELWP Water has been talking about this for some time.

Lachlan Campbell:

But this bit of work here was fascinating in as much as, it's talking about a 20% increase in surface flows by 2030, and 30% decrease by 2050. Now, if you're supplying 38% or 50% of the Murray Darling Basin, that is significant. It's not only significant for the people downstream, but it's also incredibly significant for our region. It's significant for biodiversity, it's significant for community, and it's significant for agriculture and industry.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, that was an interesting outcome. And there's just some of the modelling around surface runoff, if you like. And I guess the key take home there, obviously, is the increased areas of red. And so, that's a reduction in yield runoff. This is the engine room of the Murray Darling Basin. Dartmouth Dam, I think is not there, it's somewhere here. And so, this is really the engine room of the Murray Darling Basin Catchment in here, here and Lake Hume. And largely, look at the drop off there. So, that's significant in itself. And that's a great conversation stater, because a lot of farmers in our region rely on dam water. A number get water out of the river too, the rivers. But a number rely on dam water.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, what does that mean for farmers' dams if we go into warmer, drier, and hotter summers, and potentially less runoff? That's an interesting conversation. And in fact, I've just applied for some Australian government money to try and undertake conversation with our community about what does that mean for them? So, that's really the end of the modelling project. I want to go on a bit about adaptation planning. And this is the next component of the project.

Lachlan Campbell:

Obviously we've been held up due to various circumstances presently. But I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with adaptation planning. And I guess it's around trying to plan for the risks that you as an industry or as a family or a community might be about to experience. And I guess, here's an example of some of the risks we're facing at present as a community, as a farmer, as a family. And so, adaptation planning, it's been largely academic up to not long ago. Goulburn Broken CMA have sort of been leading work around this. And as I said, there's nothing new. So, we're able to adapt some of their thinking.

Lachlan Campbell:

But RMIT, Karen Bosomworth's been doing a lot of work. And a guy we're fortunate to have in north east Victoria called Paul Ryan. There's a lot of thinking gone into this process. Our regional catchment strategy, the last one, was based on this thinking, and the next one will be as well. So, I guess it's a really great way to have a conversation with your community about trying to understand how they can adapt to change. And obviously the more we talk about climate change, the better we are and better well prepared we are for trying to think through what the solution might be, how we can have flexibility and so forth in our systems to manage that change that might be coming.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, having an adaptation conversation with the community is a reasonably new concept. I think intuitively, it's a great way to have this conversation with your community. It really does give you a process, I think, a process to go through a set of scenarios. And that's where this modeling's so important. That's the scenario. We've got the scenario, now it's about having the conversation with the community.

Lachlan Campbell:

I guess, if adaptation thinking is new to you, this graph or bell curve gives you a bit of a sense of what it might mean. And up the left hand, you've got stress. And down the bottom, you've got time. And I guess, we try and reduce the amount of stress on people, communities, businesses, and so forth. And adaptation planning gives a wonderful opportunity to think through how you as an individual or a broader group, community, might be able to set themselves up to adapt to the oncoming change that clearly we've modelled here.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, the planning is around anticipating what the future looks like using modelling and so forth, having that conversation with affected parties, getting them to think through and own the solutions. And I think that's a critical part of this whole process is making sure that community and industry own the solutions to how they might see themselves getting through this process. Humans are incredibly resilient too. And time and time again, things are put up in front of us. And over time, people come back. And they do through adapting their systems or their thinking about how they can manage the change that's occurred.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, these processes, these waves are coming all the time, you know? It could be COVID, could be recession, could be climate. And so, looking at climate here, we want to equip people to be able to drop the curve. And I guess of recent, we've heard about dropping the curve. Well, here's another example. We want that stress level to be as low as possible so that the people are really confident and competent in undertaking the changes required. So, dropping the curve through these conversations with industry, using technically ... people who have technical skills, but also modelling, creates that environment for a conversation to occur. And I think, fundamentally, it's got to be done, I think, on a geographic space, area if you like. And so, it's important, depending on what the topic is, of course. But if you're talking about how a dairy farmer adapts to the effects of climate change, you've got to look at it in our region, nearly a catchment by catchment process.

Lachlan Campbell:

If you look at the wine industry, it's incredibly sensitive to climate. And our region is so diverse from Rutherglen to King Valley to Beechworth and so forth. So, how regions adapt is really important to them that the information is relevant and current, but also they come up with a collective view. And these are the three adaptation plans we're doing as part of this project.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, water, as I mentioned earlier, water yield's going to reduce by 20%, this is modelled, 20% by 2020. That should be 2030, sorry. And 25 to 30% by 2050. And so, this is an interesting dilemma for our catchment, in as much as the infrastructure providers and those people, the agencies who manage water, whether it's the MDBA or Goulburn Murray Water or North East Water or Goulburn Valley Water, how they all work together to try and understand what that reduction in yield will mean to them is a really important conversation to have.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, that's one of the adaptation plans. As I mentioned there, we've got the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. We want to get the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, we've got DELWP water, RMIT, La Trobe. So, a whole range of people we want to get around the table and have this conversation. What does it mean? And how can we prepare those agencies for that change that's about to occur?

Lachlan Campbell:

Dairy, we've got 170 dairy farmers. And we were fortunate enough to get a DELWP-3CA grant of 60,000 or thereabouts to support the dairy industry in our region develop a strategy or a plan about how, individually they might manage the effects of climate change. But also, broadly speaking, how the sector can manage it. And how agencies and investment can support those farmers adapt their farming system to remain viable and profitable and sustainable.

Lachlan Campbell:

And the final one is the wine industry, is around working with the wine industry. This year, the wine industry lots its entire crop, worth about $140 million. And so, climate change has got a big impact, potentially, on the wine industry. And so, this is about sitting down with each of those grape growing regions, King Valley, Rutherglen, Alpine Valley, which is the Ovens Valley. Sitting down with them and mapping out what the future looks like for them under climate scenarios, and what changes they need to make, whether it's varietal, whether it's management, whether it's watering regimes, a whole range of things. And so, that's the wine industry.

Lachlan Campbell:

As also part of this project, we want to invest in our community. And leadership is a key driver, I think, of innovation. It's about recovery from disasters, it's about a whole lot of things. And so, this project's setting out to develop these climate champions. And we're partnering with the Alpine Valley Community Leadership Program, which is a regional community program around leadership, around developing a six day lot of workshops, and getting community in for those days to talk about climate and what it means to them as leaders. And giving them the skills and capacity and competency to be able to have broader conversations with a larger community. We figured investing in our community, they're great messengers and hopefully take people with them when they're talking about it.

Lachlan Campbell:

The other part of the leadership program is natural disaster recovery. And you see this time and time again, when there's been a natural disaster in a region. The key people that step up, sometimes they surprise you. Sometimes they're the known leaders, sometimes they're not. But we need to equip them with the skills, because natural disaster obviously is the extremes of climate change. And they're obviously very much linked. But we need to invest in people, because they're the audience, I guess, who are able to bring their community out of these despairs as they occur.

Lachlan Campbell:

And finally, this is in closing, a lot of acknowledgements, the Australian government and the Victorian government. Some names, Graeme Anderson, who's been really fantastic and insightful. Bronwyn Chapman from the Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance. Graeme from Agriculture Victoria, if you don't know him. Ramona Dalla Pozza. She's from DELWP Climate. She's been fantastic. Craig Beverley, as I mentioned earlier, he's done a lot of the management modelling. Christie Roach, from DELWP. Julian Carroll, a beef farmer who's been on the control panel. He's at Mudgegonga. He's also on the MLA Southern Panel. Karen Bosomsworth from RMIT. Jane Carnie, a keen climate advocate and a beef farmer. Helen Wilson, my manager at NECMA. I must also mention Brooke Hermans there, who wrote the application and was successful.

Lachlan Campbell:

The dairy farmers ... Sorry, the industry participants who supported the development of this program, the six local governments. Paul Ryan, who's a resilience consultant. Natural Decisions, Anna Roberts, who was the key lead on this project. Spatial Vision, who did all the mapping. And also, the Alpine Valley Community Leadership Program for the leadership program. So, Heather, that's a bit of an insight into our project. Hopefully people have found it interesting. I'm happy to answer any questions people might have around the project.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. Thanks, Lachlan. What a great presentation and a great working example of taking climate change data and working with a group of people to pull something really useful together and definitely some conversation starters I could hear throughout that. We do have a few questions. And I just wanted to start with just one about what ... do people or organizations trying to set up a project to help plan for climate change, and what do you think is critical from your current experience?

Lachlan Campbell:

Thanks, Heather. Look, I think a bottom up approach is a critical way to go about this. I think quite often we see top down approaches, where there's figures and graphs and maps and so forth put on us. And I think it scares people. I think it's got to be fit for purpose. And so, a bottom up approach means that the project and the architect of the project is really designed around what the needs are of the audience you're working with. And so, getting that buy in from community or the affected parties or the audience, if you like, is so critical in designing any project.

Lachlan Campbell:

And I think the beauty of adaptation planning is, people go away with a potential solution to the issue as they see it. And so, getting farmers in the context of this conversation, and local government to own the issue and make the decisions that are the solutions that are appropriate to their enterprise. And going away with that, it's almost like a pledge, isn't it? And so, designing the project around what they need, as opposed to what we need in government sometimes.

Lachlan Campbell:

I think sometimes we think we know what's right. But when you go to the community and have that conversation, they might disagree with you. And so, the foundations need to be strong. And the community needs to lead this conversation, as much as we need to really understand what their needs and wants are, so that we can support that. And then, they can make and own the future.

Lachlan Campbell:

The other thing, I think, is it's a bit like old fashioned engagement, this is. It's really old fashioned. It comes out of the text books, it's probably 101. But yeah, that's the importance of good engagement, I think, Heather. Yep.

Heather Field:

Thanks. That's really some good insights there, appreciate that. From Graeme, Graeme said, "Great talk and project." And question is, "In your engaging with producers and industry, which do you think was more useful, talking about modelling for the future, or talking about recent trends, or is it best as a combination?"

Lachlan Campbell:

Yes, thanks, Heather. That's a good question. Look, I often think baby steps are really important, in as much that farmers are very ... Well, it's interesting. How far back to people remember? That's a really good question in itself. When you're working with community, or even yourself, how far back do you remember? And I read some literature once where people struggled to remember 12 months ago. You know? 12 months is about the limit.

Lachlan Campbell:

However, that top 20% of farmers that we engaged with at the start, they tend to collect data, they monitor and evaluate. So, they collect hard data. I suspect for the bulk of farmers and community out there, they don't. So, hence, I think it's really important to paint a picture of the past, because that's the real thing, you know? That's real. There's no arguing with that. It's defendable, and it's indisputable. The past is the past. And so, by putting information ... CSIRO did an interesting project for each CMA region, where they did look at the past. Very simple bit of work, but it was really powerful, in as much as it told a story that people could probably remember.

Lachlan Campbell:

However, as I said earlier, I'm not sure. I'll throw it out to the audience. But I reckon 12 months is about as far as you can remember with clarity. The future is almost the icing on the cake. And so, if we're all modelers ... Wouldn't it be nice to be a modeler and read the [inaudible 00:42:32]. You'd be a gazillionaire. But we're not. And so, modelling, for all its benefits, is an inaccurate science. It's just the nature of it. No one gets it 100% right. And so, any deviation from 100%, the modelling is not so accurate. And having an honest conversation with your community needs to revolve around honesty and integrity and you need to have that conversation that modelling is what it is.

Lachlan Campbell:

But it's an interesting place to think about where you're going to get to, isn't it? It's a bit like a car journey, you know? Your destination is X, but you're only at Y. And how are we going to get to X? People are really curious and interested about it. As I've just heard from our poll there, Heather, people are only willing to trust a weather forecast four days out. So, how much do you think they're willing to trust a model looking at 2030 and 2050? And I think that's a really valid question we're having those conversations. We've got the rock solid foundation of historic. And then we have the sometimes vague look at what the future might look like.

Lachlan Campbell:

Interesting enough, everyone comes out with what the future model looks like. And how accurate they are, well, I can't comment on that. But what I would say is, there is a certain amount of suspicion, particularly in agricultural community, which is conservative by nature. So, the two together are really important. But I think the past is really foundational, and the future is a lovely conversation. And almost, without belittling it, it's almost the icing. It's the sweetness. It's what ifs. Yeah. Does that sound okay, Heather?

Heather Field:

Yeah, fantastic. Great. We have got a few questions coming in now. So, we've got one from Michael. He's keen to know if you know if any other CMAs are putting this type of information together? Or is it just the north east CMA?

Lachlan Campbell:

Thanks, Michael. Well, look, as I said, we copied our project from Goulburn Broken. And hopefully ours is a Tesla. But look, the thing with technology, it's improving daily. And so, the work we've done now is almost old. Foundationally it's strong. But things are changing so quickly. So, we have had considerable interest. There's been some work, just I saw some work completed the other day for the Murray River. I think it was around Mildura, Echuca, and through there, looking at some of the horticultural crops.

Lachlan Campbell:

Now, I think Ag Vic did that. But there are ... I've been contacted by other CMAs, Corangamite CMA's been in touch with me. I think there was a bit of a push at one point. I don't know where it landed, for CMAs looking at trying to get some funding for this to be undertaken in each of their regions. As I say, I'm unfamiliar where it's landed. But I think it's a great opportunity to have these conversations with your community, get to know your community and understand their motivations. But also, be sympathetic to what they need to make good decisions.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, yeah, I think there's a fairly simple model of rolling these out. And I think Ag Vic has the resources to be able to support that. But I think the community's got to own it once again. Yeah. That's what I'd say, Heather.

Heather Field:

Thanks, Lachlan. Rowan's got three parts to his question, or three slightly different parts to his question. The first being, he's interested, will dairy survive? Or will it pass a threshold where it won't be around in this region anymore? Your thoughts, if you've got any?

Lachlan Campbell:

This is in the context of the north east. And I don't wish to comment in other areas. So, I'm only familiar with the work we've done in the north east. So, dairy is an incredibly resilient industry, there's no question at all. It's able to change what it looks like. And it's going through a fundamentally incredible change at present, a step change, almost. We're looking at intensive dairy farms popping up.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, dairy is incredibly resilient. Obviously it has its moments. And we've just been through a lot of pain with the dairy industry. And I think some regions are probably still feeling the pain. In the north east, and I'm a great advocate for the north east, believe me, dairy is incredibly strong in the north east in as much as it's largely a rain fed system. Whilst some dairy farmers use supplementary irrigation, dairy is pretty much a rainfall situation.

Lachlan Campbell:

And the modelling we've done, dairy looks pretty strong. I presented to a group of about 120 dairy farmers at their annual dinner. And I said, "Well, some of you might like what I'm about to say, inasmuch as, the winters are going to be warmer, so it's far more comfortable getting out of bed in the middle of winter." The rainfall, as I said, rainfall is not a limiting factor in our region for dairy farmers. Rye grass will grow in about 600 mm, 700 mm of rain.

Lachlan Campbell:

And so, a lot of our dairy farmers are located in regions that have eight to 1,000 millimetres of rainfall. And so, their systems will not largely be affected, it's fair to say. Dairy, as I say, there's winners and losers. And my comments to the dairy industry were that, "Look, I think the future looks pretty good, largely." Obviously animal welfare is really important through increased temperature and you need to be thinking about shade and shelter. So, there's modifications you can make, dairy farmers are putting shade on their yards where the dairy cows wait to be milked. There needs to be more shelter in paddocks, there needs to be good access to water.

Lachlan Campbell:

But largely, through some strategic planning, short and long term, dairy looks okay, Heather, I think is fair to say, in the north east. I can't comment elsewhere.

Heather Field:

Thanks, Lachlan. I just might move onto a couple of other question and we'll come back to some other questions from Rowan, just so we can share it around. Megan is keen to know, what has been the appetite been for growers and farmers for having these conversations, especially as they are facing so many challenges at the moment?

Lachlan Campbell:

Yeah, thanks, Megan. That's a good question. The current circumstances have put a stop, really, on having these conversations with groups. And look, I don't think Zoom is a great way to have those conversations with groups because it's very hard to have a two-way conversation. This Zoom today is tricky. So, I'd much rather be out in front of the groups. Now, interesting to note, this project was launched in November '19. And between July '19 and February when pretty much everything shut down, I'd addressed about 500 people, I think. And they're really curious around what the climate looks like in north east Victoria and this model we've developed.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, I've got a number of groups waiting for me to talk to them around what we've found here. The appetite's been really strong. People want to know what it means in their backyard. There's just this incredible curiosity, I think, because largely, we get these large scale models coming out. And they're not too localized. And so, we've got a five kilometre grid here, that's pretty localized. So, yeah, there's been a great deal of interest, thank you.

Heather Field:

Great. A question from J.C., what are the grower tipping points mentioned earlier?

Lachlan Campbell:

Yeah, J.C., I'll just go back. The tipping points are really a critical part of this whole project, I'll be honest, because as you know, I'm not sure, J.C. But as you know, there's a remarkable amount of modelling out there around climate. And it's almost a battle with all these models. So I think this is what makes our project different, J.C., in as much as those conversations with industry are critical. And they're going to be different in different regions. That's the thing. And so, I've just put up a slide, I'm not sure. Hopefully that's up, Heather.

Lachlan Campbell:

As I said, these are the different things that are important to different industries. So, if you look at cropping, for instance, just outside that circle, they didn't think that days with temperature minimum was important. Obviously frosts are important, but crop can handle, apart from frost, can handle a fair bit of cold, unless they're flowering, of course, and that's where the problem exists. And chill days are unimportant to crops. But frost, absolutely. Look at that. Frost, negative two degrees. They see that as a real issue.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, unless you can tease out what it actually means for those separate industries, I think this project would have little value. And that's its real strength. That page there is the real strength of this whole project, to be honest. Interesting. But when we started the project, this wasn't front and center. But as the project evolved, it became so obvious that this was the key part that made our little project different to others.

Lachlan Campbell:

Interestingly enough, I went to a talk with the CSIRO. They'd done some work, very similar work to this on mangoes in the Northern Territory. And in fact, they were seeing that some mango species aren't suitable anymore. And farmers were adopting new species as the result of the work that had been done. So, it's not new. But it's really important to have that localized conversation, J.C., with the industry that you're involved with. I think that's all I've got to say, Heather. Yeah.

Heather Field:

Thanks, Lachlan. Yeah, I've heard the mango example too, which was very interesting. We've got just a couple of comments and a question. Jeanine just had a comment that she thinks this program would be easily replicated across other catchments. And Lachlan, who is turning in from Harrietville, said he's studying regional development and land suitability for bioenergy cropping and bioenergy production in the south west region. So, he's glad to hear about this work in the north and in the field of using spatial modelling as well. And he has a question, "How have you seen bottom up approach in effect? And what has been some success stories of land owners contributing to climate change adaptation on the land?"

Lachlan Campbell:

Yeah, that's a good question, Lachlan. The biomass you're talking about in south west Victoria, that would be easily modelled. You just identify the species you're looking at growing. And then look at what its phenolic requirements are. And then ... Phenological, sorry, requirements are. And then, you could model out there how climate might affect that production system. And I guess that's what we do here is the phenological requirements of a species, whether it's a grass species or a cherry species or a viticultural species, or even Pinus radiata in the context of forestry. We were able to map that out.

Lachlan Campbell:

The bottom up approach, look, I think in all the conversations we have with community, unless we've got ownership, they're almost largely failed conversations in my belief. So, getting their buy in and input into any extension we do, I think is really critical so that it's user friendly and services the customer's needs. So, I'm a strong advocate of a bottom up approach. I think you can never doubt the collective vision and views of the community. And so, by capturing to them what's important, make sure that your project is designed with that grassroots in mind. And I think we get a better output from that process.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, yeah. Land care's a great example of a bottom up approach, isn't it? There's incredibly power and passion there and volunteerism. And listening to their needs is a really critical part of any project. So, there's a great example, the cropping industry, you know? A lot of, whether it's the Riverina Plains Cropping Group or Southern Farmers, or one of these other groups, that's a real example of a bottom up approach to identifying the issues, addressing the issues, and developing strategies to manage the issues. Yeah.

Heather Field:

Thanks, Lachlan. We've got a similar question from Kate and Helen. They're interested in knowing, were there any surprising adaptations industry were already doing and planning?

Lachlan Campbell:

Yeah, look, we are pretty early into this project. And as I say, we've got three adaptation plans we're doing. I think agriculture's an incredible industry to adapt to change. As I intimated earlier, I suspect the top 20% of farmers are well and truly adapting to climate change, and they are because they manage risk so well. They can identify the issue and develop a solution that's appropriate to their enterprise.

Lachlan Campbell:

I guess there's great examples out there, isn't there? raised Cropping down the south west. Up here in the north east, I think farmers are going more to a mixed farm situation if you're a cropper. There's great work being done in the north east looking at Spanish varieties for grape vines. What else is going on? I guess grazing systems. Rotational grazing is, I think, a great adaptation to climate change, and the flexibility that it brings farmers is really important.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, look, I think agriculture is great at developing solutions to problems. What I'd like to think is this project can accelerate that process, give them that core base data so that they can make better decisions, if you like. Agriculture is such a marginal business generally. You can't afford to make mistakes, and it's potentially why farmers are so conservative. You make a mistake and your margin's gone. So, anything we can do to support them make better decisions has got to be a win for them and for us as natural resource managers, I think. Yeah.

Heather Field:

Thanks, Lachlan. We've got one final question from Rowan. And it's around the fire side of things. So, two parts, was loss of wine this year only related to smoke damage, or other factors? And should future fire risk and also loss of snow be built into this, as these have a major impact on tourism?

Lachlan Campbell:

It's a good question, Rowan. So, largely the north east wasn't impacted by direct fire. If you go to Tumbarumba and the Adelaide Hills, absolutely affected by direct fire. So, the insidious problem of bush fire smoke is costing the wine industry hundreds of millions of dollars. It's costing our regional tourism and the whole thing a lot.

Lachlan Campbell:

We did some research work. We commissioned some work to be done just to identify what the loss of grapes in our region was, the financial loss, as a result of bush fire smoke. And you look at these big fires in California and in the Napa and the Sonoma Valleys at present, fair chance is the bulk of that area will be lost too.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, there's a lot of work required around smoke effects on wine grapes. So, largely, absolutely, bush fires is a great ... is an incredible risk, I should say, to our community. Some agricultural sectors more than others. But also, the north east prides itself on its tourism industry. And so, literally a state of emergency was declared. I think it was pretty early February. And everyone was sent home. And so, that school holidays ... It might have even been earlier than February. It might have been January. So, largely, that's one of the biggest trading periods for our tourism industry.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, tourism and hospitality is a large component of our economic profile, if you like, for the north east. And these natural disasters obviously play havoc with them, bush fire being the leading one. We've had four bush fires in 20 years. And that's four crops of grapes that are pretty much lost due to bush fire smoke in the north east over a 20 year period. So, you're losing one in five to bush fire smoke. It's not a great return, is it? If you're looking at running a business, it's largely unacceptable if you do that.

Lachlan Campbell:

So, there are incredible adaptations or research that needs to be undertaken to support that industry surviving. Yeah. Sadly, our modelling can't predict natural disasters, as I mentioned earlier. And so, yeah, it's hard to know. Sorry.

Heather Field:

Right. Thanks, Lachlan. So, that brings us to the end of the questions. We have had some comments about our great presentation. Interesting webinar, and people enjoyed the poll and thought that was quite a good way to get that message across. So, that was great. So, we're at time now. So, I will close things off. And thank you, Lachlan, for your valuable time and presentation today. I think, just based on those questions today, it's been very engaging and people have got a fair bit out of it. So, I'm sure they'll be watching the recording again, if need be, to see how they can use some of your insights.

Heather Field:

I do want to let everyone know that our next webinar will be on Thursday the eighth of October. And we'll be hearing from Doctor Craig Beverley, who is from Agriculture Victoria, on using climate data for insights on future production. So, that'll be a nice one to follow on from Lachlan's webinar today. So, if you have registered today, you will receive some more details about that webinar shortly.

Heather Field:

And just a reminder that we do have a small survey that will pop up on your screen as you exit today's webinar. So, it would be great if you can take a minute to complete that. Thanks again, Lachlan. And hope everyone has a good afternoon. Thank you.

Lachlan Campbell:

Thanks, Heather.

Page last updated: 22 Mar 2021