Farmers’ management of seasonal variability and climate change in WA
Paper presented at 2010 Agribusiness Crop Updates, Perth, 25-26 February 2010.
P C Carmody, D A Beard and D M Gray
Farmers' ability to manage seasonal variability is critical to their profitability and sustainability and is integral to all aspects of on-farm management. Our exploratory analysis of this aspect of their management approach was viewed through the eyes of advisors and influencers, with whom they typically have close contact.
We have found that farmers' responses to seasonal variability in WA are highly uneven and depend on a range of factors such as level of exposure to and the consequences of seasonal risk, the risk profile of the farmer, age, use of appropriate technology and practices, and levels of management experience and expertise. Many farmers are uncertain about whether climate change is occurring, some denying that it is. There is a low level of acceptance that it is the result of human activity, reflecting a high level of uncertainty rather than widespread open scepticism. Advisors mirror these attitudes to a degree but are more likely to agree that climate change is man made. Where climate change is accepted, many believe that current risk management is appropriate and adequate to managing climate change.
An examination of perceived constraints to improved management of seasonal variability and climate change provide evidence that there are three key factors which are fundamental to understanding the reasons for the variable acceptance. These are:
(i) the extent to which practices are perceived to be adoptable
(ii) the need for effective systems, networks and intermediaries linking researchers with farmers
(iii) extension activities delivered as part of these systems appropriate to farmers’ needs.
These three factors will be the subject of further exploration.
For more 2010 Agribusiness Crop Updates papers visit the Department of Agriculture and Food WA website.