The Wimmera community is inherently linked to agriculture. Twenty five percent of Wimmera residents rely directly on agriculture for income. One third of residents live on farms or in small townships of less than 2,000 people. Eighty four percent of our region is private land, most of which has been developed for agriculture. Given the significance of this link, Wimmera people are well placed to make a contribution to positive climate change action but are also vulnerable to the challenges that climate change may bring.
Climate change mitigation with regards to soil is generally focused on soil carbon capture and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Wimmera Carbon Ready Plan focuses on the emissions from soil and its ability to capture greenhouse gases within the soil/plant interface. The Wimmera Carbon Ready Plan does not consider emissions from machinery or animals.
Adaptation to climate change, with regards to soils, is generally about management techniques and farming ‘practice change’ that can assist in dealing with the predicted impacts of climate change. For example, this includes preparing for more droughts, extreme heat and managing the potential side effects of farming activities, for example, weeds, pests and soil erosion.
Priority soil and agricultural actions for climate change adaptation mitigation and adaptation and conditions There are currently a range of products, concepts and farming practices that may have merit in dealing with climate change. Consultation during the development of the strategy has indicated that there is still a strong demand for research, experimentation and demonstration. This includes appropriate trials that demonstrate how different land management practices can influence farm productivity. As technology and innovation progress it is important to demonstrate how they can be applied for multiple benefits, so any lag time for full adoption can be reduced and equally any risks can be assessed. Community feedback strongly supports the need for greater collaboration and coordination on research, demonstration trials and experimentation. The following actions and conditions are high level actions to assist with climate change adaptation and mitigation across our region. Details of the parameters and targets surrounding these actions are outlined on page 21 of the CRP*.
General priority actions for soil and agricultural practices:
- Establish triennial processes to review regional research priorities.
- Determine how the region will contribute to the implementation of the National Soil Research,Development and Extension Strategy (AustralianGovernment, 2014).
- Maintain current relevant research projects.
- Ensure the results of relevant research projects are published and packaged for use by the local industry.
- Improve the understanding of climate change mitigation and its relationship with farm productivity by establishing a regional network of soil health agencies and industry bodies.
- Continue to develop and implement monitoring mechanisms to measure outcomes and practice change, for example Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources ground cover transects.
- Establishing on farm demonstrations into the storage and accumulation of carbon and the reduction of soil emissions.
- Where possible maintain current demonstration trials into the benefits of soil amelioration, for example composting and nitrous oxide emissions.