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New Policy Briefs Highlight Existing and Future Farmer Practices to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change

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By Meredith Niles - Posted on 23 April 2013

Today the Center is pleased to release two new policy briefs from the Agriculture and Climate Change Project. The briefs focus on understanding the climate change adaptation and mitigation practices that farmers in New Zealand have already adopted and are likely to adopt in the future. The data comes from a series of interviews and a telephone survey conducted in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, New Zealand in the Autumn of 2012.

On the adaptation side of the issue, the data shows that a significant number of farmers in both regions have actually already begun to implement practices that can assist in agricultural adaptation. In Marlborough for example, more than half of farmers have water monitoring techniques in place. In both regions cropping, horticulture, and viticulture farmers have implemented a number of strategies for frost protection. Nevertheless, the majority of farmers in both regions have not implemented strategies to adapt to potential climate change impacts. Among the most likely strategies to be adopted in the future are developing water storage facilities, drilling more wells and pumping more groundwater. For animal producers it appears that trading stock has already been implemented by a number of farmers in both regions, while reducing stocking rates is a real possibility for the future. De-stocking may have some potential mitigation benefits if overall animal numbers were reduced, but could present untold economic challenges for individual farm families and the New Zealand economy.

For mitigation practices, we find that again a significant minority of farmers have shifted to strategies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions including planting trees, reducing fertilizer rates, improving input efficiency and reducing electricity use. Of course these strategies also create wins for farmers themselves who may be able to reduce their overall costs. In the future, farmers in both regions are most interested in alternative energies and fuel efficient farm equipment. For animal producers, reducing stocking rates is a recurring theme despite its potential significant economic impacts. As well, animal producers show a keen interest in feeding strategies to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, both regions in all sectors of agricultural production ranked mitigation strategies in the same order of likelihood to adopt, demonstrating there might be a more national inclination towards certain kinds of practices.

Next steps for the project will be to present the data to stakeholders in New Zealand and develop models to understand the drivers that influence farmers to change practices.

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Hawkes Bay_Climate Practices_FINAL.pdf566.3 KB
Marlborough_Climate Practices_FINAL.pdf561.5 KB