There are many potentially significant impacts of climate change on horticultural industries, some positive, some negative.
For horticultural industries to successfully adapt to increasing temperatures and subsequent climate changes, there will be a need to develop both pre-emptive and reactive adaptation strategies or options.
Horticultural industries are already dealing with increased threats from imported products, the need to become even more efficient, and changing social, economic and institutional pressures.
Industry will need to develop these adaptive strategies to manage adverse environmental conditions in addition to developing and implementing improved production practices to increase efficiency and productivity.
Temperature is the main factor determining location and timing of horticultural production in Australia.
Increased temperatures may require changes in cultivars, timing of planting and harvesting.
Increasing temperatures may also result in some current production areas becoming marginal, especially in the early and/or late periods of the production season.
Some regions which are currently marginal for production, may offer some production advantages.
- Climate Change Australian annual mean temperatures have increased by 0.82 degrees Celcius since 1910, with rapid increases since 1950.
- Night-time temperatures have increased faster than daytime temperatures, together with increasing frequency of hot days and a decreasing trend in cold nights.
- A mean warming of up to 2 degrees C is anticipated over most of Australia by the year 2030 (relative to 1990), and up to 6 degrees C by 2070.
- Mean temperature change is likely to be greatest inland and least on the coast.
- Most warming is expected to occur in spring and summer, and least in winter.
- Most of the anticipated climate changes point towards the need for a very high standard of crop management in order to respond to the challenges that expected changes pose.
- Industry and farm managers will need to distinguish between old climate expectations and new climate realities in determining and implementing new adaptation strategies or options.
- In order for horticultural industries to successfully adapt to increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, there will be a need to develop both pre-emptive and reactive adaptation strategies or options.
Currently the limitation on the use ofclimate applications for managing climate variability in horticultural industries, is the lack of climate science understanding that addresses the lead-time and season requirements of the horticultural industry.
The combination of long season and short lead-time, which are appropriate for other agricultural industries, is a significant constraint to the use of forecasting tools in horticulture, where a much shorter season length and a much longer lead-time, would be much more useful.
Given a sound forecast system that meets the requirements of the industry the appropriate tools can be produced.
There are no forecast systems based on the SOI and SSTs which have been extensively tested for longer lead-times and shorter seasons.
It is expected, although this has not been extensively tested, that other forecast systems would be needed to be able to provide this requirement for horticulture for rainfall forecasts.
A lead-time of up to 4 months would be very useful for many horticultural industries.
The usefulness of the 3 month season forecasts embodied in most current forecast systems is significantly reduced by the need for most horticultural industries to have a season forecast of one month or less.
There are numerous web sites that provide information that can be useful to producers, industries, consultants and advisors in making more informed decisions.
These information sources aim to provide a better understanding of climate variability, and how this variability affects specific industries. None of these are specific to Australian horticultural industries.
The climate change scenarios presented in this report were supplied by Dr Mark Howden, (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra.).
Contributions to this report by Rob Dimsey, (DPI, Bairnsdale, Victoria), Tony Napier, (NSW Department of Primary Industries, National Vegetable Industry Centre, Yanco), Dave McRae and Dr Neil White, (DPI&F, Climate and Systems Technologies, Queensland), are gratefully acknowledged.
Funding was provided by :
- Australian vegetable growers (through the R & D levy)
- Department of Primary Industries, Queensland
- NSW Department of Primary Industries
- Primary Industries and Research Victoria
- Horticulture Australia Limited.
The Australian Government provides matched funding for all HAL’s R&D activities.