Climate-Smart Solutions for a Sustainable Farming Future

You may have heard the recent chatter about climate-smart agriculture, and could be finding yourself questioning what it really is and what purpose it serves.

Climate-smart agriculture is a term originally coined by the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation. It summarises the concept of ensuring that agriculture is resistant to the effects of global warming, and is able to meet the food and nutritional needs of the world.

Essentially, there is an urgent need to find solutions to heal the planet and ensure food security for all. In order to do so, our agricultural practices will need to be swiftly adaptive to resist patterns of climate change, and inventive enough to match growing demand for food.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are able to track climatic trends by using atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine sensors. As well as evaluating past trends, they also employ global climate model simulations to form climate change projections for areas all over Australia. The key predictions for the Southern parts of Australia (which includes the Northern Agricultural Region) have been detailed by Climate Change in Australia, and state the following patterns will occur:

  • Average temperatures will continue to increase in all seasons (very high confidence).
  • More hot days and warm spells are projected with very high confidence. Fewer frosts are projected with high confidence.
  • A continuation of the trend of decreasing winter rainfall is projected with high confidence. Spring rainfall decreases are also projected with high confidence. Changes to summer and autumn rainfall are possible but less clear.
  • Increased intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected, with high confidence.
  • Mean sea level will continue to rise and height of extreme sea-level events will also increase (very high confidence).
  • A harsher fire-weather climate in the future (high confidence).
  • On annual and decadal basis, natural variability in the climate system can act to either mask or enhance any long-term human induced trend, particularly in the next 20 years and for rainfall.

Source: Climate Change in Australia | Regional Climate Change Explorer

There is no doubt that Australian farmers are facing both challenges and opportunities around meeting food demand while resisting climate change patterns. Australia has a current population of approximately 26.8 million, with a population growth rate of 2.5% per annum, while our neighbours are among the largest populations of the world.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest populous nation and has a current population of approximately 281 million, and the Philippines currently sits ranked at 13th in the world, with a population of approximately 118 million.

Source: CIA’s World Factbook | Comparing Country Populations

There are many opportunities for the Australian agricultural industry to move toward climate-smart practices to build resilience and meet population demands. Some of these include:

  • Transitioning towards lower emissions agriculture
  • Balancing soil health, plant health and environmental health including holistic approaches to pest management, weed management, and soil management
  • Efficiently preserving and utilising water and rainfall
  • Reducing harvest losses and production waste
  • Seizing production opportunities and implementing sustainable practices, innovation, and technology that help to build resilience
  • Creating sustainable rural and regional communities that support human health and wellbeing

NACC NRM’s Sustainable Agriculture team, guided by our Regional NARvis goals, support landholders in the Northern Agricultural Region to learn more about climate-smart agriculture, pursue related opportunities, and adopt climate-smart agricultural practices on farm.

For more information, please contact NACC NRM Sustainable Agriculture Facilitator Katrina Sasse. 0447 361 335 | katrina.sasse@nacc.com.au

Sustainable Agriculture Facilitators are supported by the Australian Government through funding from the Natural Heritage Trust under the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program.

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