Ready Steady Farmer – and the Challenge of Climate Change.

Access to finance is not significant in persuading farmers to adopt other than business as usual (BAU) agricultural practices. It is more likely some farmers’ actions and views are driven by near term happenings, such as extreme weather events. Possibly, the inability of outreach attempts by our Australian Government to have farmers change from BAU is the dogma of the belief we need initiatives to deal with long term problems. To test a farmers response to change might be as simple as determining which are the most are reactive, and who is proactive, in terms of how they manage and respond to impacts associated with climate change. Policies might then tailor the necessary competencies to suit the bands of farmers needing to change.

It does not matter whether we are in Australia, UK, US Russia or whatever, our changing climate and the effects of extreme weather events, such as the recent floods and droughts are having a significant impact on agriculture. Changed practices are required. However, if you don’t understand the problems of the farmers you only ‘feed the chooks’(referring to the media stories). We suggest a survey is necessary after taking note that in the UK the Environment Agency approach is commit to supporting the agricultural industry. Supporting to be more sustainable and resilient to climate change. They also go the extra to know how farmers are responding to the challenge of a changing climate and ask what are their needs?

A better way to promote the Carbon Farming Initiate or BioDiversity challenges could take the lead from the report on the analysis and key findings of the opinions, attitudes and behaviours of farmers across the UK, towards climate change. The report draws conclusions and recommendations that could inform future action, led by the Environment Agency (UK) and its key partners. The evidence came from surveys conducted by the Farming Futures project, the National Farmers Union (NFU) Water Survey 2011, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Irrigation Survey 2009/10 and the Defra Farm Practices Survey.

“The report‟s focus is predominantly on water use on the farm, as an indicator of attitudes and practice. It is recognised that wider agronomic issues such as pests, disease, soil management, plant genetics and nutrient management are important factors within the climate change context; these issues are outside the scope of this report.” The full report is at: http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/GEMI0512BWKV-E-E.pdf

The key findings in this report highlight (source: Farming Futures 4 Sept 2012):

“Arable and horticulture businesses appear to be the most forward thinking farm types on climate change and are actively preparing for change.

Some management decisions on farms positively address climate change issues, however decisions are usually driven by the need to increase production and resource efficiency and thereby reduce overall costs.

Access to finance is not in itself a significant barrier to farmers changing existing practices.

Farmers need better support to understand climate change and what measures they could take in order that the UK food production becomes more sustainable in the future.

Many of the methods that farming could consider to help them adapt will already be familiar as good environmental practice. These include: maintaining good water quality, conserving water resources, conserving soils, following good nutrient management and improving wildlife habitats.

Many actions can lead to cost savings for example, reduced water and energy bills; and could create new income, for example, generating renewable energy.

Enabling farmers to take action now will result in a more ‘climate change proof’ agriculture industry.

Recommendations for enabling change:

Recommendation 1 – Production of targeted information for farmers on climate change impacts for agriculture.

Recommendation 2 – Establish or utilise existing good practice farm programmes.

Recommendation 3 – Farm advice programmes need to integrate and improve upon how climate change is represented, with information and best practice guidance produced for agriculture.

Recommendation 4 – To monitor and analyse the activities of farmers on climate change adaptation, and in the long term, understand the impact which is made by agriculture.

Recommendation 5 – For the Environment Agency and key partners who work with agriculture, to work in partnership to implement the recommendations identified in this report.”

CO2Land org strongly supports Farming Futures in how they flag practices. It is a signals approach and they allocate their assessment of blogs with ‘weak signals logo’ for yet unrecognized, by mainstream agriculture, ideas, trends, technologies or behaviour changes within the farming industry.  We are sure you will have stories of your own that know of practices that might have a big impact on future farm practices or have disappeared from the radar for no good reason other than they get forgotten or were poorly promoted.

CO2Land org will talk to some friends to see if this problem can be addressed in a better way for Australia.

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