Using producers’ own production and financial data from the Lucindale region, modelling was initially undertaken to assess pasture and livestock production, and enterprise profitability for two prior periods (1970-1999 and 2000-2008) to ensure the models were performing correctly. Modelling was then performed looking ahead to 2030, using 4 different climate scenarios.
Two enterprises were examined:
- Merino sheep. Soil type – Sandy loam on clay loam: Pasture – Sub clover and Phalaris; and
- Crossbred ewes x terminal sire. Soil type – Sandy loam on clay loam: Pasture – Sub clover and Phalaris.
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 2000-2008 rainfall was 13% lower, average maximum temperature showed no change and pasture production was 5% higher (note: this is a surprising result from the models – caution with this result is suggested)
- For 2030:
- The temperature increases are consistent (+1%) but the rainfall forecast is slightly more variable ranging from a -3% to – 10%, and averaging a 9% reduction.
- On average across the four scenarios, there is no change in annual pasture production with 3 models predicting a reduction in production and one model (English) suggesting a considerable increase in pasture production (range -9% to +13%)
Livestock & Financial Impacts, and Adaptations
Using the modeled 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 modeled. 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 modeled for the two enterprises at Lucindale, please click on: