Using producers’ own production and financial data from the Orange Innes region, modelling was initially undertaken to assess pasture and livestock production, and enterprise profitability for two prior periods (1970-1999 and 2000-2009) to ensure the models were performing correctly. Modelling was then performed looking ahead to 2030, using 4 different climate scenarios.
A prime lamb enterprise was examined. The pasture was annual grass, sub clover and phalaris at a good fertility.
Weather predictions, pasture and livestock production
Projected weather for the four 2030 scenarios and the impact on pasture production, livestock production and profitability are shown below
- Compared to 1970-1999, over the period 2000-2009
- Rainfall was 15% lower, average maximum temperature was 9% higher and pasture production 3% lower.
- Stocking rate needed to reduce marginally (-1%) which had a 10% reduction in profit
- For 2030:
- The temperature increases are consistent (average 12% higher) but the rainfall forecast is variable from a 3% to a 19% decrease (average 9% lower).
- Due to the altitude (950m) winter pasture production is the major limitation to the current production system. So the increased temperatures during the growing season results in an increased annual pasture production, similar stocking rates and profits/ha.
- The impact of higher temperatures (and higher CO2 levels in 2030), can be seen by comparing the results for 2030 compared to the dry period 2000 – 2009.
- The driest model (German) does have a significant impact on the production system. This shows there is a level at which the decline in rainfall wipes out the benefit from increased temperature.
- As there was little impact predicted in 2030 on the current system, no adaptations were modelled.