Transcript of National Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative (NAMI) Western

​This eight minute video was produced to communicate the outcomes of the Climate Change Research Program from the Ridgefield Future Farm in Western Australia. It provides information to help land managers understand that it's possible to maintain productivity and profitability in spite of a hotter and drier climate.  This research has been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to help prepare Australia’s primary industries for climate change and build the resilience of Australia’s agricultural sector.

Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry
Transcript - Ridgefield Future Farm (Final) – Demonstration Farm takes science out of the lab and into the paddock

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National Adapation and Mitigation Initiative: demonstration farm [8:04] 

9 July 2012

Transcript

  1. Voice Over:
    A 1600ha parcel of land near Pingelly in Western Australia is helping show primary producers what the possibilities are to adapt to a changing climate. Purchased in 2008 the University of Western Australia’s Ridgefield property, two hours southeast of Perth is one of four demonstration sites across the country home to projects funded through the federal governments $46.2 million Climate Change Research Program.

    Graeme Martin heads up the Faculty of Animal Science at UWA and is responsible for the direction of the Future Farm 2050 project.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, University of Western Australia (UWA) Institute of Agriculture:
    The UWA Future Farm 2050 project was conceived as a visionary project aiming at the year 2050 and trying to imagine the ideal farming systems for this area of agricultural production for 2050. It includes sheep enterprises and cropping enterprises as its primary industry focus and its income drivers. In both cases, we are trying to imagine the best way to manage this landscape with respect to the outputs and also trying to reduce carbon emissions as part of our obligation in that direction.

  2. Voice Over:
    Professor Martin says the major aim of Ridgefield is to show producers that it's possible to maintain productivity and profitability in spite of a hotter and drier climate. Professor Martin said the three main areas of importance at Ridgefield are animal production, crop production and ecosystem restoration and that many of the trials here have been made possible through the Climate Change Research Program.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    So the CCRP has been involved in research here right from the very beginning of the project. The initial reactions came through the RELRP, so that focussed on methane and other emissions from animal industries. The methane emissions in particular have involved three or four major projects. The most important is probably Professor Vercoe’s project looking at native plants that can mitigate methane production and also the study of pasture plants and so forth to see if they can change the way that animals produce methane.

    Associate Professor Phil Vercoe, Program Leader, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    We screened 150 Australian native shrubs to look for ones that we felt fit into a shrub-based system in Australia and we came down to 15 that were exciting, either for their biomass or their potential to reduce methane production. That was all done in the lab and we were able to use Ridgefield to come and bring these shrubs down, plant them in the paddock and we got a situation where we are comparing; those that produce biomass, so influenced the productivity of the animal, and those that can reduce methane production. So we can make this comparison in the setup that we have in Ridgefield, but importantly, there’s large gaps between the rows that are filled with pasture which will make up the majority of the diet for the animal. In this next phase, we’re really focusing on the antimethanogenic impact that inter-row pasture species mix has on our shrub-based system. We're hoping that we'll get additive effects, not just the shrub’s antimethanogenic effects but also the pasture’s, without reducing productivity, which is a critical thing.

  3. Voice Over:
    One plant in particular, Eromophila glabra, which can tolerate harsh growing conditions, has been shown to reduce methane production in livestock by between 80 and 90 per cent.

    Further research at Ridgefield is focused on increasing the reproductive efficiency of sheep and reducing the methane emissions from that industry.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    We have a genetics program looking at the potential of using genetic selection to reduce methane outputs. The third one has been the maternal efficiency project run in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia, which has a focus on reducing the amount of methane produced per kilogram of product.

  4. Voice Over:
    Dr Martin said they are concentrating on several areas including, post natal mortality and joining times.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    Our mantra at Ridgefield which in particular comes out of the animal production system, but applies in fact to the whole farm management is three words; clean and green and ethical. Clean really means reducing our reliance onhormones, drugs and chemicals. Green means ecosystem care and ethical means looking after animal welfare but also other ethical issues associated with animal production and farm production generally.

    In association with all of these projects have been studies of carbon in the soil and nitrous oxide emissions done under the NAMI program.

  5. Voice Over:
    This trial under the National Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative was led by Dr Ken Flower also from the University of Western Australia.

    Dr Ken Flower, lecturer in Agronomy, UWA:
    Our trials started in 2010, and we did a two-year trial where we were looking at the effect of different crop sequences on the subsequent wheat crop, the nitrous oxide emissions in the subsequent wheat crop. So it was a two-year trial, and we were using small chambers that we put into the crop to measure the nitrous oxide coming off there.

    Ridgefield offers a unique opportunity because it’s a very diverse farm so it's got a lot of cropping and ecological aspects and obviously sheep as well.

  6. Voice Over:
    Professor Martin said that in 2010 they undertook a massive replanting program at Ridgefield, which was guided  by a high-level scientific team.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    The parts of the farm that are not being used for major production will be used for ecosystem restoration. Much of the farm is nearly all cleared as it was done so and so as a consequence there are areas of the farm that can be easily restored so we can regain our plant biodiversity and animal biodiversity.

  7. Voice Over:
    Ridgefield also offers further opportunities to add to trials that were funded under the CCRP such as into the use of biochar, a stable form of charcoal that is showing potential for carbon sequestration and as a soil amendment.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    We will be trialling biochar on the Future Farm project, just to see how it fits in with our systems here and to see what effect it has on soil carbon, soil management, soil structure and soil fertility in this region.

  8. Voice Over:
    UWA has developed Ridgefield as a ‘best practice management’ farm, and to have as small an environmental footprint as possible.

    Professor Graeme Martin, Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture:
    We have deliberately set out and planned, for example, for all of our buildings to be ecologically friendly. This means that they have to be self-sustaining in terms of electricity production and water management. For example the new farm manager's house, which is designed by the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts (ALVA) at UWA, is extremely intelligently designed with the best materials we could possibly imagine, within the context of cost in a situation like this. It supplies all its own electricity and is not connected to the grid. It will harvest all its own water, enough for a standard family to live a normal life throughout the year.
    In addition, the farm infrastructure includes a new dam project which will have enough water to sustain all the animals if we had two years of drought in a row, we would have enough water to sustain all our animals with respect to water.
    So all of our designs are built around this prospect, around this principle of managing our footprint. We can do that because we are a university and we can draw on vast expanses of knowledge and expertise of all of these areas in the university itself, and hopefully then demonstrate to the community that they can do the same thing.

  9. Voice Over:
    Professor Martin said while it's hard to gauge just how many people will adopt the new technologies underpinned by science conducted at Ridgefield, there is no doubt it's created some interest.

    The Climate Change Research Program funds research projects and on-farm demonstrations to help prepare Australia's primary industries for climate change and build the resilience of Australia's agricultural sector into the future.

    The Ridgefield Future Farm is supported by funding and in-kind support from the following partners:

    University of Western Australia (UWA)
    CSIRO Livestock Industries
    Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA)
    Sheep Co-operative Research Centre (Sheep CRC)
    Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)
    Grains and Research Development Corporation (GRDC)
    No-Till Farmers Association

    Thank you to the following participants of this video:

    Professor Graeme Martin – UWA
    Professor Phil Vercoe – UWA
    Dr Ken Flower – UWA
    Special thanks to Farm Manager, Kristy Robertson and staff

    END