Research project to share farming ideas on changing climate

Published: 1 December 2022

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How farming might adapt to a changing climate is the subject of a special presentation being hosted this month by the Ashburton District Council.

Industry experts and 27 farmers, many from Mid Canterbury, shared their thoughts for a research project called Supporting Land Use Adaption for a Climate Changed Future and the findings are now being shared at a free public presentation at the Hotel Ashburton on 12 December, starting at 7.30pm.

Council’s agricultural portfolio advisor Richard Fitzgerald led the project, which aimed to improve farmers’ knowledge of a changing climate and enhance their ability to apply that knowledge to action on the farm.

Council Chief Executive Hamish Riach said the project identified how industry could engage more effectively with farmers on the topic of a changing climate and what sort of information they needed at their own farm level.

“In a climate changed future, the growing conditions for plants and animals will be different. There will be different weeds, pests and diseases and our farmers may need a different approach.

“For example, if it gets hotter and drier, would farmers need to shift their lambing dates or grow different crops? If so, that will have a flow on effect.”

Mr Riach said farming was heavily influenced by the climate and focus groups were created to accurately capture farmers’ views.

“They challenged the view that farmers were slow to change and said they were constantly adapting their businesses and making investments in things like irrigation to cope with cycles of the weather and climate.”

The project was funded by Our Land and Water and offers several recommendations for enhancing farmer engagement with climate change.

For instance, climate change data is usually presented at a regional and national level, but having localised data was seen as having huge value.

If farmers better understood how frequently extreme rainfall events would occur in a changing climate, they might change their farm set-up and infrastructure like bridges, culverts, flood protection and drainage.

Mr Riach said Council was pleased to be part of the research project as agriculture was an important part of the district’s economy.

“Anyone who is interested in learning more about the project should come along to the presentation on 12 December and hear Richard speak about what the research discovered.”

Tickets can be reserved at:  https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/supporting-land-use-adaption-tickets-474384405527

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