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Project name Dairy Businesses for Future Climates
Funding bodies Australian Department of Agriculture
Contributors Dairy Australia, University of Melbourne

What impact will climate challenges and extreme weather events have on Tasmanian dairy businesses twenty years from now, and what farm systems will best suit these conditions?

This question was the focus of the Dairy Businesses for Future Climates national project (2012-2016), which looked at the skills and support that will be required for prosperous and sustainable dairy industries in the future.

The project is a collaboration between Dairy Australia, the Australian Department of Agriculture, the University of Melbourne and Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

Tasmanian Example

The project looked at three Australian dairy businesses including a 150-hectare dairy farm in North-West Tasmania. Using climate change modelling, the research team were able to forecast the possible impacts of climate change in 2040 and how adaptation scenarios might change farm and business outcome.

“We found that seasonal patterns of pasture production in Tasmania are likely to change, with growth rates predicted to be higher between May and September, but lower over the remainder of the year,” said TIA Senior Research Fellow, Dr Matthew Harrison.

“Based on climate change modelling, the climate at Myalla by 2040 will have warmed by almost 1 degree and rainfall will have declined by up to 6 per cent, with increasing year-to-year variability. The climate scenario used in the modelling indicates that temperatures will be similar to those currently occurring in Southern Victoria.”

The research team found that it will be important for dairy farm managers to adapt their businesses to manage climate change risk and have financial plans in place to buffer low production in some years. The research findings from the Tasmanian trial are available here (PDF 3.6MB)

“All of this comes back to the importance of having skilled farm managers that are equipped to manage future climate change challenges to ensure the future profitability and sustainability of the dairy industry in Tasmania and around Australia,” Dr Harrison said.

Want to know more? Visit the Dairy Australia website