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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture – Southern Livestock Adaptation 2030

Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) undertook research in two broad theme areas.  These were:

  1. Climate change assessments and analysis for the Southern Australian livestock industries; and
  2. Greenhouse gas emission (GHG) assessments and mitigation options for the Australian dairy industry. 

The Key findings are as follows:

Southern Livestock – Adaptation

  • Simulation modelling of perennial ryegrass production has indicated that annual pasture production is likely to increase under most climate scenarios in the cool temperate (Tasmania) pastoral regions with increases in pasture growth occurring during winter and early to mid spring.
  • To capture the associated increases in pasture production in the cool temperate dairy regions of Tasmania, it was shown that adapting changes to stocking rate and calving date could improve dairy farm profitability.
  • Incorporating deeper rooted and heat tolerant plant traits in the current pasture base were shown to be effective in moderating the pasture production decline in the SW and SE regions of Victoria, highlighting that the breeding of new cultivars of perennial ryegrass should be focused on these traits and that adopting alternative species into the feedbase that already possess these traits, e.g. tall fescue, should be considered.
  • In the more temperate dairy regions of SE and SW Victoria, adaptations to calving date and stocking rate were unlikely to negate the effects of climate change suggesting that further changes to the farm system are required to maintain profitability.

Dairy – GhG and Mitigation

  • One hundred dairy farms throughout Australia have been assessed for their farm’s GHG emissions. Data analysis of these 100 dairy farms has shown that 94% of the variation in total farm GHG emissions is explained by milk production alone, although the GHG emission intensity of milk production varied between 0.83 and 1.39 kg CO2e/ kg fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM).
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Relationship

Linear relationship between total farm greenhouse gas emissions (t CO2e/annum) and milk production (a; t MS/annum), milking herd size (b) and farm area (c; ha).

  • The mean intensity of emissions associated with milk production was 1.04 kg CO2e/kg FPCM.  Milk production per cow, feed conversion efficiency and the amount of nitrogen based fertiliser applied were the key farm variables most influencing the GHG emission intensity of milk production.
  • Adoption of abatement strategies that reduce enteric methane production, while assisting in improving milk production per cow and those focused on improving the efficiency of nitrogen usage on farm will have a positive impact on reducing the GHG emissions intensity of milk production in Australia.
  • Several modifications and improvements have been made to the Dairy Greenhouse gas Abatement Strategies (DGAS calculator) as a result of changes to the national inventory methodology and from user feedback.
  • In collaboration with the University of Melbourne, the team has developed a MS Office Excel spreadsheet Carbon Offset Scenarios Tool (COST) calculator for the Australian dairy industry to explore the viability of a range of mitigation options that could be included as Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) offsets. This spreadsheet tool allows for the exploration of key questions such as the price of carbon required to make a strategy profitable and costs of implementing these strategies.  

To arrive at these key findings, the specific projects undertaken are listed below. A summary of each project is available here:

View summary of the TIA key findings

View more information on this research go to the Primary Industries Climate Challenge Centre.