Reduced emissions

Solar panels

R&D for climate adaptation

The next challenge for the food and agriculture sector is to explore our options to adapt and minimise the impacts of extreme weather patterns.  Many opportunities exist to explore research and development for climate adaptation and the Framework is an effective tool to drive and communicate change.

In order to drive continuous improvement in data collection quality and consistency, we will be working with the dairy manufacturers through the DMSC to clarify the boundary of operations to be included. This will enable us to take responsibility for our energy consumption and GHG emissions and establish a consistent approach to data collection across the manufacturing sector.

In 2012 and 2013, Dairy Australia received Federal Government funding to provide 1400 Australian dairy farmers access to personalised on-farm energy assessments, workshops and information resources. By June 2015, 21% (1,399) of Australia dairy farmers completed an energy assessment through this project.  The Dairy Australia program resulted from an initial project by Fonterra who undertook 60 energy assessments as a pilot, following collaboration with Dairy Australia on building the energy assessment tool. Other dairy companies have also undertaken energy assessments for their suppliers.

The Dairy Climate Toolkit (see  http://www.dairyclimatetoolkit.com.au/) provides comprehensive knowledge of the practices that profitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farm systems, embedded in the context of every-day farm management decisions. It is funded by the Australian Government through the Carbon Farming Futures Extension and Outreach Program.

The Dairy Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategies Calculator (DGAS) allows farm managers and other users to calculate the impact of adopting different abatement strategies on their total farm GHG emissions, and GHG emissions intensity. The tool can help them work out the strategies best suited to their farming system.

Dairy Australia in conjunction with the Dairy Futures CRC, the Victorian Government and the Federal Government is investing in research related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example through genetic improvement, diet and reactive nitrogen fertiliser management.  The challenge for dairy farmers is balancing changes in any increased costs associated with changed practices against the potential production and environmental benefits.

There is growing potential to achieve reduction in on-farm emissions as research progresses, financial support increases, technologies and policies evolve and uptake increases.  However, this is not a short term scenario.  Much of the research and development that will provide effective and profitable solutions requires long-term investment in comprehensive research programs, and concerted adoption programs.