Feds’ president’s farm in climate adaptation study

Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills’ farm is one being used for a case study on climate adaptation.

Irrespective of personal views around the causes for climate change, all farmers know our climate is ever-changing impacting farm businesses. This makes the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Impacts of Climate Change on Land based Sectors and Adaptation Options, an important contribution.

“All farmers know the climate changes and whether it is man-made, natural or a combination of the two, what really matters is building resilience into our farm businesses,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, whose own farm is one of the MPI case studies.

“The climate changes and will continue to change because we live on a dynamic planet. If we had little or no climate change our environment would be closer to that of Mars and hostile to life as we know it.

“What the Ministry for Primary Industries has produced is thought provoking because the overriding assumption around climate change has been its negative effects. The climate is in fact neutral; it is what we make of it which counts.

This is a very important point.

Almost all the information on climate change is about the politics and possible mitigation. This study is looking at how farmer might adapt to it.

“If we are in a warming cycle with higher concentrations of CO2, then we can expect increasingly rapid pasture, crop and tree growth boosting productivity. On the downside, there will likely be increased frequencies of drought and floods with pests and disease.

“Ensuring we have the right on-farm infrastructure, systems and personnel to cope with climate variability is vital. Especially once you marry what we are doing inside the farm-gate with what is happening regionally and nationally.

“It is also vital we maintain stringent biosecurity to defeat pests and exotic diseases before the border.

“With the case study done about our farm, it boils down to the tactical use of plantings to stabilise hillsides, farm dams to store water and stock policies to better cope with the weather volatility we are experiencing.

“Environmental management is vital; it’s about being able to farm sustainably and profitably for generations to come.

“While outside of the report, the control of possums by way of 1080 has been massive to our farm’s economic and environmental sustainability. The explosion of bird life and biodiversity I have seen with the demise of possums has been extraordinary.

“The other case studies are there to show farmers by sector and type just what is possible. I think it will engender discussion within the primary communities on where we go and how we get there. That is a discussion Federated Farmers is keen to be a part of.

“New Zealand’s innovative and progressive farmers are very good at reading environmental signals. Farming will continue to adapt and evolve in response to these changes,” Mr Wills concluded.

  The paper Impacts of Climate Change on Land based Sectors and Adaptation Options is here.

Feds has links to the paper, a toolbox and case studies under Useful facts, figures and resources here.

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