Understanding what commodities will grow well in any given location of Australia in the future is among the potential benefits of a new initiative led by Agricultural Innovation Australia Ltd (AIA).
Work is underway on the AIA Climate Atlas initiative to support climate resilience and adaptation for Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
The initiative aims to deliver an online tool that provides interactive data and visualisations related to the forecast long-term impacts of climate change. It will help growers, communities and decision-makers to identify climate-exposed inputs, and to understand the potential risks and opportunities to their businesses and sectors over a 20–50-year horizon.
AIA CEO, Sam Brown, said the objective of the Climate Atlas is to enable growers to adjust enterprise mixes, infrastructure investments and business location over time, enabling them to be resilient in the face of climate change.
In designing the initiative, AIA undertook several scans of the innovation landscape and identified the Climate Services for Agriculture as a potential foundational platform for the Climate Atlas to be built on as a standalone tool.
The Climate Services for Agriculture platform currently provides the sector with information on historical weather data, seasonal outlooks and climate projections. It’s being delivered by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, and funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund (FDF).
AIA, in collaboration with the team from Climate Services for Agriculture, is now conducting a discovery phase with Australia’s rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs)*. Designed to identify commodity-specific requirements to inform the scope for the Climate Atlas, this phase will also help determine whether Climate Services for Agriculture is a suitable foundational platform.
The discovery phase is funded by the FDF as part of the Climate Services for Agriculture team's engagement program.
Mr Brown said that the novelty in this project will be in the combination of currently available granular and regional climate information with key parameters for different commodities and sectors.
“In essence, the Climate Atlas is all about informing and strengthening decision-making that will support the long-term sustainability of Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry in the face of climate change. Leveraging the RDC’s knowledge and existing research in climate and data projects will be crucial to its success.”
AIA’s initiative takes inspiration from the Australian grape and wine sector’s existing Wine Climate Atlas, released by Wine Australia in 2020.
Wine Australia’s General Manager of Research and Innovation, Dr Liz Waters, said the Wine Climate Atlas has proven to be a valuable resource to help the grape and wine sector manage the effects of climate change and inform strategic planning.
The Climate Atlas initiative also builds on another AIA initiative in the climate space, Agri-Climate Outlooks, a four-year program with the Bureau of Meteorology to improve and enhance seasonal outlook services provided to Australian farmers, fishers, and foresters.
*Participating RDCs include AgriFutures Australia, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Australian Pork, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Forest & Wood Products Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Sugar Research Australia and Wine Australia.