Native pastures and beef cattle show a spatially variable response to a changing climate in Queensland, Australia

Cobon, David H. and Stone, Grant and Carter, John and McKeon, Greg and Zhang, Baisen and Heidemann, Hanna (2020) Native pastures and beef cattle show a spatially variable response to a changing climate in Queensland, Australia. European Journal of Agronomy, 114 (126002). pp. 1-11. ISSN 1161-0301


Abstract

Queensland's rangelands are an important source for Australia's pastoral food production. However, they are subject to significant climate variability and will be under increasing pressure as the climate changes, potentially leading to loss of productivity. Pasture growth fluctuates greatly due to rainfall variability, which unfortunately is the climate variable with the largest uncertainties in future projections for northern and eastern Australia. This sensitivity study examines the effect of climate change and its interaction with soil fertility and trees on pasture and livestock production in Queensland. Nine climate change sensitivities were tested in various combinations; an increase in air temperatures by a median projected value of +3 °C, rainfall changes of -20 %, -10 % and +10 % and an increase of carbon dioxide concentrations to 700 ppm. The GRASP model was used to assess the responses of pasture growth, pasture quality and cattle liveweight change per head. The most arid areas in western and south-western Queensland were the most sensitive to changes in rainfall. In contrast, the tropical north was the most resilient region. Southern and south-eastern Queensland benefitted from higher air temperatures producing greater pasture growth, quality and liveweight gain per head by extending the growing season and reducing frost during the winter months. The presence of trees competing for water and nitrogen increased the sensitivity of pasture to climate change, especially at higher carbon dioxide levels and lower rainfall. Increased carbon dioxide enhanced pasture growth and mitigated rainfall reductions by improving the water use efficiency of the plants. Thus, a warmer climate may create new opportunities in the south and south-east, but a warmer and drier climate in the western regions of Queensland is likely to reduce pasture and livestock production.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2020 06:31
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2021 04:19
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate variability, CO2, forage production, liveweight gain, rangelands, vulnerability
Fields of Research (2008): 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140201 Agricultural Economics
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2020.126002
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/38498

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