Yea farmers get the low-down on climate-smart farming

12 October 2018. More than 60 farmers turned out to find out how climate-smart farming may benefit them at a dinner in Yea on Thursday night.

The event, hosted by Yea River Catchment Landcare Group and Farmers for Climate Action, featured University of Melbourne Primary Industries Climate Challenge Centre Director Professor Richard Eckard and Dr Luke Shelley from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Agriculture Programme.

Farmers for Climate Action Chief Executive Officer Verity Morgan-Schmidt also appeared remotely from the Sunshine Coast, to discuss the way farmers are changing what they do to adapt to a changing climate.

Professor Eckard said that it was essential that farmers understood how climate change may impact their business and how carbon farming may work for them.

“If you’re in agriculture, then you are in the business of carbon farming,” Professor Eckard said.

He said farmers spent a lot of time talking about nitrogen efficiency, but understanding how we can efficiently convert carbon was at least as important.

“We’re all carbon farmers, it’s just a question of how efficient you are at converting that carbon into product. Carbon farming ought to be mainstream business. Let’s not a let a fringe group claim the name ‘carbon farming’ for their own,” Mr Eckard said.

Farmers can improve their bottom line by improving carbon storage in their soils. “Soils are then more resilient with climate variability and they store more nutrients, reducing the need to invest in fertilisers.”

Dr Shelley told attendees that now is the time to start thinking about climate change impacts on businesses. “It’s all about risk management: understanding the range of possible impacts and planning for your business.

“We’ve seen increases in the average temperature right across Australia in the last 100 years—upping the chances of extreme events, particularly hot weather—as well as shifts in  rainfall.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though. “The Bureau is here to help, with a new program dedicated to supporting farmers to make the best decisions—be that seven days ahead, seven months, or advice on long-term planning.”

Ms Morgan-Schmidt shared experiences of farmers from across Australia who are leading the way on climate action on farm.

“Farmers are custodians of almost 50 per cent of Australia’s land mass. We’re the canaries in the proverbial coal mine, and we are determined not to see our future undermined by failings in political leadership.”

She encouraged farmers to get on the front foot and engage with the risks and opportunities of climate change by attending the Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture Conference in Beechworth on Thursday, 25 October.

To find out more go to farmersforclimateaction.org.au/climateriskag2018