Agriculture is an important part of Tasmania’s economy. In 2012-13, the gross farm gate (crops and livestock) value of agricultural production was $1,190.34 million, which is close to 5 per cent of gross state product (ABS data 2012-13). The projected changes to the Tasmanian climate are likely to have significant impacts, both positive and negative, on agricultural activities at farm, regional and industry levels.
Projected changes – Climate Futures for Tasmania reports:
The projected climatic changes and their impacts relevant to agriculture in Tasmania include:
- Annual mean rainfall through to 2100 is projected to remain within the historical range. However, significant changes are projected in the seasonal cycle. These include increases of 20 per cent to 30 per cent in summer and autumn rainfall along the east coast and on the west coast, 15 per cent increases in winter, and 18 per cent decreases in summer rainfall. Reductions in rainfall on the central highlands are projected in all seasons.
- Tasmania can expect significantly less frost by the end of the century, with many sites in the State likely to experience less than half the current number.
- Changes to temperature will be an important factor in the choice and management of crops.
- Large increases in the number of growing degree days (GDD) are projected by 2085. The GDD is a heat index used to calculate when a crop has had enough days above a base temperature to reach maturity. In some regions GDD are forecast to double. By 2030, a crop requiring 1,000 (10° Celsius base) GDD is projected to mature approximately one month earlier than during the baseline period of 1961‑1990, and by the end of the century up to two months earlier. This means, for example, that by 2085, wine varieties such as pinot noir are likely to be harvested around mid-February, more than two months earlier than during the baseline period.
- The Meat & Livestock Australia website provides a range of climate change resources for producers.
- Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlooks and video outlooks can also help farmers to make management decisions.
- The Climatedogs represent the climate processes that drive Australia's rainfall variability. These short animations summarise the latest science from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO on the key climate drivers that bring us seasonal variability. The animations also explain some recent insights about climate change.
- The Australian Bureau for Agricultural Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has examined the potential effects of climate change on forests and forestry. In 2011-12 ABARES published the report Potential effects of climate change on forests and forestry in Australia. The Summary for Tasmania and Technical Report for Tasmania are available. The reports address changes to wood production, the forestry and forest products industries, and the communities that depend on those industries. These and other state and national reports on climate change and forestry are available on the ABARES website.
Agriculture fact sheets
- The Tasmanian Government and Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture have produced a series of information sheets about the opportunities and risks for Tasmanian agricultural enterprises resulting from climate change. They include topics such as irrigated pasture, wine grape production, and the Meander Valley irrigated area.
- Cradle Coast NRM has developed information sheets for the major agricultural activities in the north-west region.