Using producers’ own production and financial data from the Woodstock 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.
Two enterprises were examined:
- A self-replacing Dorper enterprise producing 44kg lambs; and
- An Angus self-replacing breeding enterprise.
The pasture base was Phalaris and sub clover
Weather predictions & pasture production
Projected weather for the four 2030 scenarios and the impact on pasture production are shown below
- Compared to 1970-1999, over the period 2000-2009 rainfall was 19% lower, average maximum temperature was 4% higher and pasture production 13% lower
- For 2030:
- The temperature increases are consistent (+9%) but the rainfall forecast is slightly variable ranging from a -2% to – 19%, and averaging a 9% reduction.
- Rainfall is less affected than during the dry 2000-2009 period
- However, on average, there is a 7% decrease in annual pasture production (range +6% to -20%)
- Autumn and spring rainfall are most affected. Winters are likely to be warmer with fewer frosts
- The number of days with a maximum temperature above 300 Celsius will increase while the number of days with a minimum temperature below 00 Celsius will decrease
- Pasture production will be lower in autumn and early winter. Summer pasture production will also be lower
- For two of the models there will be higher pasture production in late winter and early spring
Livestock & Financial Impacts, and Adaptations
Using the modelled pasture production figures, the impacts on livestock production and farm profitability were then calculated. Such impacts were initially based on a “business as usual” case i.e. no adaptations (changes to farm management practices) were made.
Then, by discussing these predicted results with farmers, a series of possible adaptations were agreed to and modelled. These adaptations were assessed for their ability (either individually or in combination) to help reduce the impact of climate change on livestock production and farm profitability.
To see the ‘business as usual’ impacts, and then what adaptations were proposed by producers and modelled for the two enterprises at Woodstock, please click on: