Transformative and systemic climate change adaptations in mixed crop-livestock farming systems

Ghahramani, Afshin and Bowran, David (2018) Transformative and systemic climate change adaptations in mixed crop-livestock farming systems. Agricultural Systems, 164. pp. 236-251. ISSN 0308-521X

Abstract

Mixed crop-livestock farming systems provide food for more than half of the world's population. These agricultural
systems are predicted to be vulnerable to climate change and therefore require transformative adaptations.
In collaboration with farmers in the wheatbelt of Western Australia (WA), a range of systemic and
transformative adaptation options, e.g. land use change, were designed for the modelled climate change projected
to occur in 2030 (0.4–1.4° increase in mean temperature). The effectiveness of the adaptation options was
evaluated using coupled crop and livestock biophysical models within an economic and environmental framework
at both the enterprise and farm scales. The relative changes in economic return and environmental variables
in 2030 are presented in comparison with a baseline period (1970–2010). The analysis was performed on
representative farm systems across a rainfall transect. Under the impact of projected climate change, the economic
returns of the current farms without adaptation declined by between 2 and 47%, with a few exceptions
where profit increased by up to 4%. When the adaptations were applied for 2030, profit increased at the high
rainfall site in the range between 78 and 81% through a 25% increase in the size of livestock enterprise and
adjustment in sowing dates, but such profit increases were associated with 6–10% increase in greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions. At the medium rainfall site, a 100% increase in stocking rate resulted in 5% growth in profit
but with a 61–71% increase in GHG emissions and the increased likelihood of soil degradation. At the relatively
low rainfall site, a 75% increase in livestock when associated with changes in crop management resulted in
greater profitability and a smaller risk of soil erosion. This research identified that a shift toward a greater
livestock enterprises (stocking rate and pasture area) could be a profitable and low-risk approach and may have
most relevance in years with extremely low rainfall. If transformative adaptations are adopted then there will be
an increased requirement for an emissions control policy due to livestock GHG emissions, while there would be
also need for soil conservation strategies to be implemented during dry periods. The adoption rate analysis with producers suggests there would be a greater adoption rate for less intensified adaptations even if they are
transformative. Overall the current systems would be more resilient with the adaptations, but there may be
challenges in terms of environmental sustainability and in particular with soil conservation.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version embargoed until 1 August 2019 (12 months), in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 21 May 2018 01:34
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2018 02:54
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate change, adaptation, mitigation, integration, modelling, GHG, land use change
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070103 Agricultural Production Systems Simulation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070107 Farming Systems Research
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070105 Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2018.04.011
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34136

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