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Research investment to help farmers adapt to climate change

The Rudd Government has announced another major research investment to help our agricultural industries adapt to climate change, including the grain, grape, dairy, aquaculture and beef industries.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke has announced a total of $37.6 million for ten projects, under the Climate Change Research Program.

In July 2008, the Government announced three priorities under the program: reducing greenhouse pollution, improving soil management and adapting to a changing climate.

Funding has already been committed to projects targeting the first two priorities: $21.4 million for research into soil carbon – including $1.4 million to research biochar – $12 million to research nitrous oxide emissions in soil and $26.8 million to reduce emissions from livestock.

This $37.6 million for the third research priority includes $11 million from the Government and contributions from industry research bodies including Meat and Livestock Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Mr Burke said the Government continued to deliver on its commitment to invest in agricultural research to help producers prepare for the challenges of climate change.

“Research is the key to unlocking productivity growth in the face of climate change and other global challenges,” Mr Burke said.

“We believe farmers are innovative and constantly adapting to make their produce as competitive as possible.

“That is why we reject any projections that assume farmers won’t adapt.

“These ten research projects show how serious our agriculture, fishing and aquaculture industries are about research and adaptation.”

Projects will be established in all states and the Northern Territory and include:
- Developing genetic traits in wheat and sorghum that suit hotter, drier environments with higher levels of carbon dioxide;
- Investigate potential business opportunities and risks from relocating some production systems to northern Australia, including the peanut, processing tomato and rice or cotton industries;
- Research new grape varieties which are more tolerant to extreme weather events associated with climate change;
- Investigate the implications of climate change on our fisheries and aquaculture;
- Research to ease heat stress in the dairy, beef and sheep industries in southern Australia.

Full details of the ten projects:

A national research program for climate-ready cereals – CSIRO ($4.81 million)
This project will evaluate genetic traits in wheat and sorghum for climate change adaptation. It will identify genetic materials with improved response to higher temperature (sorghum) and to elevated temperature and carbon dioxide (wheat).

Adaptation of a range of wheat types to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration – University of Melbourne, Victorian Department of Primary Industries and Grains Research and Development Corporation ($6.77 million)
This project will expand on work undertaken for climate-ready cereals by testing identified plant varieties in the field, using state of the art technology. It will evaluate a range of wheat traits under elevated carbon dioxide to assess their value to cropping systems’ production and sustainability.

Cropping management adaptation – CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship ($4.58 million)
This research will assist the adaptation of Australia’s cropping systems to climate change by evaluating the risk to production and the available adaptive capacity of the industry. This will be undertaken across a number of locations nationally through regional engagement in model development and information provision.

Relocation of intensive crop production systems to northern Australia: Costs and opportunities – Qld Primary Industries and Fisheries, Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation ($490,000)
This project will examine opportunities for businesses in relocating to northern Australia, using the examples of tomato and rice-cotton production systems. It will explore mechanisms to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of these industries to the effects of climate change. It will help identify key drivers for change, as well as emerging opportunities for adaptation and options to improve practices and farm business strategies.

Agriculture transforming to adapt to climate change: The peanut industry expansion in the NT as a blueprint – CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems ($1.05 million)
This research will study the transition of peanut production systems to the Northern Territory. It will assess the environmental implications, review strategies to manage pests and diseases, and analyse the social aspects of this industry transformation. It will collate findings to provide a blueprint for farmers considering adapting to climate change by relocating to other regions.

Development of effective management strategies to adapt production to mitigate climate change challenges in the wine industry – Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) ($8.05 million)
This project will develop and distribute new and innovative methods to manage and maintain quality of grape production under conditions of increased heat and water stress. It will be supported by GRWDC investments to develop winemaking practices that address climate change-related challenges, such as high alcohol content in wines and the occurrence of undesirable flavours in immature or overripe fruit.

Developing improved on-ground practices and industry strategies for adapting to climate change within beef production enterprises across northern Australia
– Meat and Livestock Australia ($2.76 million)
This research will identify and evaluate better beef grazing practices and industry strategies for adapting to climate change within beef enterprises across northern Australia (Qld, NT, and the Pilbara and Kimberly regions of WA). It will include analysis of different management techniques and their impact on the balance between production, sustainability and profitability goals to enable producers, their industry and communities to understand the likely effects of climate change and respond accordingly.

Climate change adaptation in the southern Australian livestock industries - Meat and Livestock Australia, CSIRO and the University of Melbourne ($2.53 million)
This project will examine the impacts of climate change on the livestock industry in southern Australia and strategies for adaptation on both the farm and industry scale. It will address key industry questions around adapting to the impacts of climate change on current production systems and incorporating mitigation options.

Reducing the impact of heat stress on animal performance and welfare in southern Australia dairy, beef and sheep industries - the University of Melbourne ($2.6 million)
This research will develop information resources to help producers make effective and informed decisions about the management of livestock heat stress. Research will focus on the dairy industry, but the project will produce guidelines for heat stress management, including nutritional interventions and associated welfare issues, which are applicable to other intensive livestock systems.

Adaptation of fishing and aquaculture sectors and fisheries management to climate change in south eastern Australia—a national case study - Victorian Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria) ($4 million)
This project will examine the biophysical, social and economic implications of climate change for fisheries in Australia’s south eastern region and facilitate the preparation and adaptation of the sectors to these future changes. It will provide frameworks, tools and knowledge that can be applied across Australia at a national level and also at a regional level.

by S. C.
02 june 2009, World News > Oceania

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