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Improved management of climate variability on Australian grain farms

Wylie, P.B., Mr; ph: (07) 4662 4899; fax: (07) 4662 5244;

Saal, R., Mr; ph: (07) 4688 1457

Carberry, P., Dr; ph: (07) 4688 1377; fax (07) 4688 1193;

Hayman, P., Mr; ph: (02) 6763 1100; fax: (02) 6763 1222;

Research organisations:

Horizon Rural Management, 56 Drayton Street, Dalby Qld 4405

Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, Tor St, Toowoomba Qld 4350

APSRU Tor St, Toowoomba Qld 4350

Tamworth Crop Research Institute, RMB 944, Tamworth NSW 2340

Collaborators: John Cameron, Sydney, NSW (02) 9482 4930; Harm Van Rees, Bendigo, Vic. (03) 5439 3089; Pierre Fievez, Perth, W.A. (08) 9389 8860; Peter Ridge, Toowoomba, Qld. (07) 4639 4422; Alan Mayfield, Clare, S.A. (08) 8842 3230


LWRRDC, Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, Queensland Department of Primary Industries (APSRU), CSIRO Tropical Agriculture (APSRU), New South Wales Department of Agriculture.


The project will combine research and extension by examining, with advisers and producers, better ways to manage crop production and farming systems, taking into account climate risks and variability. It will consider ways to minimise damage and loss of profit from such problems as frost, waterlogging, drought, hail and weather damage at harvest as well as how to make the most of opportunities for improved production in better rainfall years and in response to seasonal forecasts.

The project will aim to:

1. develop an understanding of farmers' decision making processes and approaches to managing climate variability;

2. research improved management practices and farming systems which respond to the opportunities and risks arising from climate variability;

3. extend and discuss these options with advisers and farmers.


Research will start with a combination of eight exploratory workshops and eight focus groups with farmers around Australia to develop a better understanding of farmer decision making and to examine management practices and farming systems in relation to climate variability and risk information. It will evaluate farming system options so as to reduce crop and income loss from these climate risks, and also look at the opportunities to make the most of good and bad seasons by adjusting crop inputs and management practices to maximise profitability. Research and extension will be undertaken by project team members in all mainland Australian grain producing states, including Qld, NSW, SA, WA.

The project will search for information from other research and collaborate with other projects researching components of climate variability, or farming systems. Farm economic simulation using spreadsheet models (FARM developed by Peter Wylie, Peter Ridge and others), MIDAS in Western Australia, and simulation models (APSIM) in conjunction with APSRU of Toowoomba will provide biophysical and economic evaluation of alternative practices and farming systems. It will therefore have a strong emphasis on developing practical and profitable solutions to climate risk problems, that integrates the information from other climate research with farmer experience and economics research.

A report on farmer decision making with respect to climate variability will be produced at the end of year 1, along with strategy manuals, developed for southern (winter rainfall) and northern Australia to document and explain improved farming tactics. Further economics research and a refinement of strategies and management information will occur prior to and during discussions at the second round of (extension) workshops. Revised strategy manuals and extension material, including a video and workshop manuals, will be prepared by the end of year 3.

Progress: The project is commencing with a series of research workshops at several locations around Australia in late 1998 and early 1999.

Period: starting date 1998-08; completion date 2001-06

Status: project underway.

Keywords: climate variability, risk management, crop management

Publications: None as yet


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