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Climate Clever Beef : On-farm demonstration of adaptation and mitigation options for climate change in northern Australia

Bray, S., Walsh, D., Rolfe, J., Daniels, B., Phelps, D., Stokes, C., Broad, K. C., English, B., Floulkes, D., Gowen, R., Gunther, R. and Rohan, P. (2014) Climate Clever Beef : On-farm demonstration of adaptation and mitigation options for climate change in northern Australia. Project Report. Meat & Livestock Australia.

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Abstract

This project engaged with beef producers in five regions of northern Australia to identify management options that improve the performance and resilience of beef businesses. The work was done in the context of increasing the resilience of businesses to current climate variability as well as to projected changes in climate. The project also identified potential synergies and conflicts between improved business performance, climate adaptation practices and greenhouse gas emissions management.
Three regions (Qld Gulf, Fitzroy Basin and Victoria River District) evaluated climate adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation options via a benchmarking and options analysis approach with three “focal” properties. Five indicators of performance were evaluated for each property – profitability, productivity, land condition, climate change risk and greenhouse gas emissions. These detailed business analyses were complemented by demonstration sites in each region. Two other regions (Qld Mitchell grasslands and NT Barkly Tablelands) used on-property demonstration sites to showcase promising climate adaptation practices identified in a previous project.
The focal property approach provided a systematic process for assessing current business performance as well as a ready means of estimating the impacts of management changes. For example, over a 15 year period, the Qld Gulf focal property improved its pasture condition dramatically by stocking around the long-term carrying capacity and undertaking wet season spelling. This, combined with herd management improvements, increased profitability and productivity, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15%, and improved greenhouse gas emission efficiency by >100%.
The demonstration sites in each region effectively promoted and documented the benefits of key grazing practices for improving resilience to both current climate variability and potential climate change. For example, on a 16,118km² property in the Barkly, a paddock demonstration has documented initial land condition recovery at old bores, and the reduced risk of overgrazing around new bores, through best practice stocking rate management and wet season spelling.
Qualitative analyses showed that many of the adaptation practices identified for improving resilience are consistent with existing best practice recommendations aimed at improving productivity and sustainability. Furthermore, these adaptation practices appear to have largely neutral implications for greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, practices and options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions were more likely to create conflicts that leave enterprises more vulnerable to climate change. Examples of the negative consequences of mitigation measures include reduced pasture production associated with increased carbon sequestration in trees (i.e. woody vegetation thickening or regrowth retention) and increased operating costs associated with carbon pricing (if these are not offset with carbon credits).
The project demonstration sites and focal property benchmarking process provided a solid base for focussed extension work targeting the drivers of profit, land condition, greenhouse gas emissions intensity and climate adaptation strategies.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Keywords:Final Report
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Farm economics. Farm management. Agricultural mathematics
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Animal culture > Cattle
Deposited On:23 Jan 2018 00:48
Last Modified:23 Jan 2018 00:48

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