Transcript of Southern Livestock Adaptation

​This eight minute video was produced to communicate the outcomes of the Climate Change Research Program from the Southern Livestock Adaptation Program. It provides information to help land managers in southern Australia can get a clearer picture of on-farm activities that can be applied in the drier, hotter seasons.  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 – Southern Livestock Adaptation Video (Final) – Hotter and Drier: what it means for primary production in Southern Australia

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Southern Livestock Adaptation [7:55] 

15 June 2012

Transcript

  1. Voice Over
    Twenty five locations across the country from Mt Barker in Western Australia through to Cootamundra in New South Wales, are looking specifically at how primary producers in southern Australia can get a clearer picture of on-farm activities that can be applied in the drier, hotter seasons.

    The Southern Livestock Adaptation Program combines global circulation models and local weather data to simulate the impact of increased temperatures and decreased rainfall on pasture production, livestock production and gross margins in the beef, sheep and dairy industries in 2030, 2050 and 2070.

    Phil Graham, through the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries at Yass has been working with sheep and cattle producers in 12 locations across New South Wales.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
    Our research aims to show basically two things, one: what is going to be impact on the animal grazing system we have looked at in this location from a climate in 2030 and two: what changes can we make in that production system which will make that system more robust in 2030?

  2. Voice Over
    The research, which has been running since 2009, uses sophisticated computer models to work through future climate scenarios and the impacts on current grazing systems throughout southern Australia.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
    If we’re looking at impacts at a timeframe of 2030, the only way we can do that is by using models.  There’s been a number of models which can model pasture and animal production, been around for a number of years; ‘Grass Gro’, the ‘SGS’ model.  These are models that have been validated so we know that what they produce is realistic to the environments that we’re taking them to.  So, they’ve been our tool.  Then what we have to do is, with producer groups in various areas, talk to them about what sort of enterprise do they want to see looked at. Capture the details about that enterprise, when are they going to calve? When are they going to lamb? When do they sell? All these sorts of factors.  We take that information, we put it in the program.

    First of all we run it for ‘historical,’ which means we use the actual rainfall and temperature that occurred for that location.  Run the enterprise on it and we produce information, which is information that the producers can relate back to. Once we’ve done that we keep everything the same except we bring in weather data for 2030 which we’ve been able to generate using global circulation models.  So we bring that in and then we start looking; this is how the enterprise performed historically, this is how it’s performing with the future climate, what’s the difference?  So in doing that we’ve assessed what the impact is, and then we start leading onto what changes we can make.

  3. Voice Over
    The models show a range of possible scenarios including a tendency towards shorter growing seasons in spring – but also some higher winter growth.

    He said current work indicates that in a number of locations, summer feedlots, or confinement feeding, will become a major tool to handle the longer, drier summers predicted in the future.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
    At most locations the impact of changes in rainfall and temperature has been that we’re going to have a shorter growing season. So we’re going to be growing green grass for less months than we were before.  So that means we have got a longer period without green grass, that’s placing pressure on ground-cover, and therefore the sustainability and environmental issues that we talked about. So one way that producers are already using are summer feedlots. We get the animals off the pasture. They mightn’t be in something as intensive as behind here, but it might be a five or ten acre paddock, so we’re aiming to protect the vast bulk of the farm from degradation.  So it’s something that’s already being used but what it is saying is that their use might become more important.  So some producers are looking at that are saying, “I was thinking of developing these facilities but this is giving an indication that I should go ahead and do that.”

     Phil talking on the phone:
    “Well we can look at some of the design issues and where we want to fit the feed-lot. I can come out and go through that and sort of progress the issue further.”

  4. Voice Over
    Armed with the climate data, a program called ‘Grass-Gro’ is then used to determine what producers need to do to help recover from the possible loss of production.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
     ‘Grass-Gro’ is a model, a major model we used. It just basically within a day, there’s temperature, there’s rainfall that comes in, you’ve got a grass species, you’ve got a soil that is relevant to that area and you’ve got a livestock production system. The model grows the grass that’s driven by temperature and rainfall and the type of soil. The animals eat it and you’ve got some dollars come out from day one and you just keep repeating that over a long period of time.  So we’re doing runs from 30 years to 50 years.   And the fact that we validated with known data means we are confident that what we’re getting out of it is realistic. The purpose of the project is to grab the information that comes out of it and talk about that. And talk about what changes can be made and how they can be made.

  5. Voice Over
    Mr Graham said there is no one-size-fits-all approach and added different strategies will have different effects in different areas.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
    We’ve really involved farmers in all the locations we’ve done the work, and this is the same whether it’s in New South Wales or all the other states.  Once they see what the impacts are they’ll turn around and say, well, what if we try this? What if we try that? What if we put in a fodder crop? What if we change pasture type? What if we use a summer feedlot?  So we’ll take the adaptations that we talked about, plus some adaptations that we think are relevant, we’ll run those, and we go back.

  6. Voice Over
    Mr Graham said the Southern Livestock Adaptation program has helped put future scenarios into terms easily understood by producers.

    Mr Phil Graham, Technical Specialist, Grazing systems, NSW DPI, Yass:
    The key point of interest for farmers, I think in any region, is for them to be able to see what the impact of all this talk about climate change is, in a language they understand. And the language they understand are production factors out of their enterprise.  How many steers can I run? What is the steer turn off rate? What’s wool cut going to be? What is happening in lambing percentage? What’s happening to Profit?  It was put me once that if you just say ‘change in temperature’, ‘change in rainfall’, all you have given them is the first two pages of the book. It’s 100 page book!  They actually want to see what all the book has got, not just what the introduction has got.  It is about giving producers some confidence and clarity because they’re not getting that from the debate, in inverted commas, that’s occurred over the last four years. It’s about: What’s the impact? What can we do about it? Presenting that information back to producers and the rest of the rural community in such a way that they have confidence in what’s being done and that helps to give them confidence about what they might do in the future.

  7. Voice Over
    The Southern Livestock Adaptation Program 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.

    The Southern Livestock Adaptation Program is supported by funding and in-kind support from the following partners:

    Meat & Livestock Australia
    Dairy Australia
    Australian Wool Innovation
    CSIRO
    University of Melbourne
    Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research
    State Departments of Agriculture NSW, VIC, TAS, SA and WA

    Thank you to the following participant of this video:

    Mr Phil Graham - NSW DPI

    END