Broadacre farmers adapting to a changing climate
Authors: Ross Kingwell, Lucy Anderton, Nazrul Islam, Vilaphonh Xayavong, Angela Wardell-Johnson, David Feldman and Jane Speijers
Australian farmers are likely to be able to adapt to projected climate change as long as they have ongoing access to improved crop varieties, technologies that support the profitable growing of crops and farm management and business education.This finding comes from a study that assessed the financial performance of 249 diverse farm businesses in southwestern Australia over the period 2002 to 2011. The study found that farmers in the region who continue to rely on crop production (most wheat-growing) will persist as financially sound businesses provided that the terms of trade do not become unduly adverse, and that farm debt is sensibly managed. Studied farms were able to improve their productivity, not so much by investing in new technologies that may have shifted outwards their production possibilities, but rather through better use of existing technologies, including technologies that offered scale economies. Productivity improvement has allowed a majority of farm businesses to prosper during this period of climatic challenge and market volatility. This report details how Western Australian farm businesses have been responding to their warmer, drier environment, providing insight for other regions projected to experience similar changes as climate change progresses.