Farmers, landowners and community members heard about how climate change could impact them and how they can prepare to meet the challenges climate changes poses.
Soil scientist Dr Cassandra Schefe, local farming consultant Corey Watts, Gippsland sheep and cattle farmer Jenny O’Sullivan and Permaculture co-originator David Holmgren spoke to about 250 people at the Farming Solutions for a Changing Climate event on May 29.
Mr Watts spoke about the ongoing risks of climate change and said the risks of climate change went beyond global temperature increase – which has risen roughly one degree and would continue in the future.
He said one of these risks was a downward trend in rainfall and greater volatility in extreme weather which included extreme rainfall events and heatwaves.
Dr Schefe spoke about the benefits of soil carbon and how carbon levels can be increased and maintained on farms.
Gippsland sheep and cattle farmer Jenny O’Sullivan, spoke about personal experiences in improving both farm productivity and environmental values, and ways to improve on-farm income.
Permaculture co-originator David Holmgren spoke how his own property in Hepburn was designed to catch urban stormwater to create a highly productive property.
He also spoke about the increased bushfire risk in a changing climate and how whole farm planning can be used to help reduce climate risk and provide environmental benefits.
“Agriculture in Yarra Ranges is already being affected by climate change. It’s important we all explore ways to adapt and mitigate the risks of a changing climate,” Yarra Ranges Mayor Tony Stevenson said.
“Unfortunately, as the climate warms and dries and as extreme weather events become more common, our agricultural production will be at increasing risk.
This event was organised by Yarra Ranges Council with support from a number of local farming organisations, and was hosted by Danni Small from Women in Horticulture Yarra Ranges.
Tony Stevenson encouraged farmers and landholders to join groups such as Farmers for Climate Action and Landcare to support and learn from each other.
Tony Stevenson also highlighted Council’s Ribbons of Green program, which has provided nearly 800,000 plants to local landowners over the past 10 years, and the Environmental Upgrade program.
The Environmental Upgrade Program enables farms and commercial buildings to be upgraded for environmental benefit, such as installing solar panels, heating or water saving technology, using competitive financing.
What risks does climate change pose for local landowners?
- Overall less rainfall, that will affect irrigation and plant growth
- More volatile, extreme weather events (such as bushfires, heatwaves and severe storms)
- Extreme temperatures in summer and drier winters
What can farmers and landowners do to prepare for climate change?
- Look at ways to build up soil carbon and monitor using an accredited soil testing company
- Develop a Whole Farm Plan to include water and energy efficiencies, bushfire mitigation, shelter belts and conservation zones
- Store and use water wisely with efficient irrigation
- Join groups such as Landcare and Farmers for Climate Action to get support from peers and experts, share knowledge and answer questions