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Climate Variability

 

Growcom’s climate program is steadily growing and now includes a range of activities across multiple disciplines. Priority activities include:

  • developing techniques and tools for the rapid assessment of climate risk for agricultural industries
  • identifying suitable adaptation strategies to minimise climate risk and maximise opportunities for a range of commodities
  • supporting growers in identifying opportunities for reducing or storing greenhouse gas emissions

Current Projects

Carbon Farming – Extension & Outreach

The project has provided horticultural growers with tailored information and tools to pursue carbon farming, emissions reductions and carbon sequestration in their farming and packing enterprises.

The project has enabled growers to make informed decisions by increasing their understanding of carbon mitigation in horticulture. This has encouraged growers to consider emissions management as part of their everyday management decision.

Factsheets
    1. An introduction to the Emissions Reduction Fund
    2. Greenhouse gas emissions in horticulture
    3. Mitigation options in horticulture
Carbon Mitigation Wiki

Access the Carbon Mitigation Wiki here.

For more information, please contact the Horticulture Carbon Farming Extension and Outreach Officer – Lene Knudsen lknudsen@growcom.com.au

The My Carbon Farming is an excellent place to learn more about the Emissions Reduction Fund, projects that are already happening, the steps involved in running and managing a project, and to locate more detailed information and assistance.

The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Futures Extension and Outreach program.

Carbon Farming – Action on the Ground

The project will provide a demonstration of the use of nitrification inhibitors with fertilisers in subtropical horticulture production with the aim to reduce emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a major greenhouse gas. On-farm trials will provide real-world comparisons between the growers’ current standard fertiliser practices with those employing nitrification inhibitors with the same nitrogen application rates.

Previous work has shown that nitrification inhibitors have great potential to reduce emissions of N2O from agricultural land. This project will expand on that work by conducting trials at seven demonstration sites in south east Queensland and Victoria.

This project will provide practical grower-centric demonstrations of the use of nitrification inhibitors to reduce emissions with little change to other farm management practices and while preserving or enhancing productivity.

Growers will be invited to on-farm field days to see first-hand how these practices can be applied in horticulture production.

Factsheets
  1. Using nitrification inhibitors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in horticulture

For more information, please contact the Horticulture Carbon Farming Extension and Outreach Officer – Lene Knudsen lknudsen@growcom.com.au

The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Futures Action on the Ground program.

Completed Projects

Carbon & Sustainability – emissions demonstration. This project demonstrated the effects of various farm management practices on greenhouse gas emissions and soil carbon levels. Practices under investigation include minimum till, fertiliser application methods, the addition of biochar and nitrification inhibitors. Field sites were located on production farms in the Granite Belt and Lockyer Valley. (Funded by the Climate Change Research Program of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry).

Enhancing resilience and recovery. This project investigated aspects of farm design and practice that maximise resilience to natural disasters. It also identified the steps required to enable producers to rapidly rebuild their lives and businesses following natural disasters. The primary output was a disaster recovery toolbox. (Funded by a DEEDI Rural Resilience Package Industry Grant).

Economic impact of carbon price. This project produced a detailed but easy-to-comprehend summary of the key mechanics of the proposed carbon pricing mechanism (Clean Energy Future policy). It included an analysis of the economic impacts of the projected cost increases including bottom-line impacts on farm profitability, and outline strategies to minimise exposure to the carbon price. (Funded by Horticulture Australia Limited).

Opportunities in the Carbon Farming Initiative. This project assessed opportunities for horticultural enterprises to generate credits in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). Particular topics included the identification of possible activities and methodologies, an assessment of R&D requirements, estimates of the emissions abatement and carbon sequestration potential for a number of key commodity groups, and an estimate of realistic income potential from activities in the CFI. (Funded by Horticulture Australia Limited).

Critical thresholds. We collaborated with Agri-Science Queensland to assess the impact of projected temperature increases on a range of major fruit and vegetable crops. This project identified a number of crops and regions that may be impacted by climate change, and suggested practical adaptation measures to reduce these impacts.

Climate change for the apple and pear industry. This project identified the potential impacts of climate change on apple and pear production. Climate modelling was used to assess the potential climate risks across all Australian growing regions. It provided a summary of regionally-specific adaptation and management practices for changes in temperature, water availability and the impacts of pests/diseases. (Funded by Horticulture Australia Limited)

Climate change for the avocado industry. Information on the effect of current climate variability on avocado production was used to determine the potential impacts of climate change on this industry, and to identify specific management strategies that can be employed. Climate projections were used to assess the level of vulnerability in different production regions. This project also summarised key aspects of carbon mitigation policies that are relevant to the avocado industry. (Funded by Horticulture Australia Limited)

Climate RD&E review. Growcom was contracted by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) to review the industry’s climate research, development and extension needs. This project identified priorities for industry investment in RD&E. (Funded by Horticulture Australia Limited)

NurseryFootprint. We developed a carbon footprint calculator to suit the specific needs of the Australian nursery and garden industry. (Funded by Nursery & Garden Industry Australia)

Horticulture and Climate Change

The State of the Climate reports prepared by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO provide a comprehensive and trustworthy source of information on long-term climate trends. You can download the latest 2014 report from http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/

Some of the key points from the report include:

  • Australia’s mean surface air temperature has increased by 0.9°C since 1910.
  • Seven of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.
  • Over the past 15 years, the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold and the frequency of very cool months has declined by around a third (compared to 1951–1980).
  • The duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves have increased across large parts of Australia since 1950.
  • Extreme fire weather has increased and the fire season has lengthened across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
  • Australian temperatures are projected to continue to increase, with more hot days and fewer cool days.
  • A further increase in the number of extreme fire-weather days and a longer fire season are expected in southern and eastern Australia.
  • Average rainfall in southern Australia is projected to decrease, with a likely increase in drought frequency and severity.
  • The frequency and intensity of extreme daily rainfall is projected to increase.
  • Tropical cyclones are projected to decrease in number but increase in intensity.
  • Projected sea-level rise will increase the frequency of extreme sea-level events.

Source: BOM & CSIRO. State of the Climate 2014 (http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/).

Many reports on projected climate change concentrate solely on mean or maximum temperatures. This report highlights some of the more subtle climate variables that are actually much more important for fruit and vegetable production, such as the number and timing of extremely hot days that can hammer produce in the field, or the reduction in cool temperatures required for fruit development. We encourage growers to consider this information and to seek further expert advice when making long-term investment decisions.

Fact Sheets