Adapting to climate change

Farmers for Climate Action. is seeking primary producers to help them adapt

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CLIMATE CONCERNS: Tasmanian beef farmer Rob McCreath, Deloraine, moved from south-east Queensland.

CLIMATE CONCERNS: Tasmanian beef farmer Rob McCreath, Deloraine, moved from south-east Queensland.

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Free expert advice is being offered to farmers on the climate change challenges facing Tasmania's farmers

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Tasmanian graziers, concerned about adapting to climate change are being encouraged to apply for a new extension program to help assist with grazing and pasture management.

The Tasmanian Climate-Smart Grazing Fellowship is being run by Farmers for Climate Action.

FCA intends to select 200 farmers and agribusiness leaders to take part in the free 12-month program.

Fellowship facilitator Corey Watts said with rapidly growing awareness of climate risks and widespread support for net-zero emissions by 2050, it was an ideal time for Tasmanian farmers to help.

"There's a lot of work still to be done to build agriculture's path to net zero, but more and more graziers are stepping up to make it happen," Mr Watts said.

"We're looking for 200 people who will change the game - on their own properties, as well as in the wider world."

Successful applicants will be advised on climate challenges and solutions for productive pastures and grazing by some of the country's leading scientists and expert practitioners.

"Over the coming months, they will work with experts in climate science, soils and pastures, climate-smart grazing, carbon markets, energy, supply chains, and agroforestry" Mr Watts said.

"They'll learn skills in climate communications, networking, community organising, and how to support one another, and they'll be encouraged to reflect on what they learn."

The Fellowship and full extension program is supported by the Tasmanian Government's Pastures Pathway Small Project Fund.

Tasmanian beef farmer Rob McCreath, Deloraine, said he intended taking part in the program.

The McCreaths moved from a 1,000-hectare grain and cattle property at Felton in south-east Queensland, to one a quarter of the size in Tasmania, in 2016.

They were sick of Queensland's droughts and concerned about the impact of changing weather patterns on their operation.

"For a long time I have been concerned about climate change, and wanting to learn more about how we can make our farm more resilient, to the likely impacts," Mr McCreath said.

"It is with us and gradually will have a greater effect."

He is now breeding and fattening beef cattle at Montana, near Deloraine.

"The farm we bought used to a tree plantation, and we are establishing new long term pastures, and really interested to learn more about that," he said.

"Farming is all about being prepared for what is ahead of you," he said.

"We are planning to plant pasture species that are going to be productive into the future, in terms of rising temperatures and more difficult seasons."

Mr McCreath said he was also interested in carbon farming.

"It might be a good opportunity for us to lock up carbon in the soil and get paid for it."

"That would be really good for the environment and might be good for the hip pocket, as well."

Bronte Park beef producer Brett Hall, an FCA director, said the program encompassed a broad range of activities that influenced pastures.

"It's encompassing a broad range of activities that influence what might happen to your pastures," Mr Hall said.

It's encompassing a broad range of activities that influence what might happen to your pastures. - Brett Hall, Bronte Park

"it will be be rotating your grazing, matching the right animals to the right area, at different times of year.

"Examples could include having rest periods for some of the native grasses, so they can seed efficiently and not be eaten while they are still in the head."

Mr Hall said it was hoped to attract young farmers, who might be taking more of a responsibility for running family farms.

"We have a real range of people - there is no age limit on who should be doing this

"All farm businesses will get some benefits, such as more sustainability and financial return, from managing their pastures better."

He said surveys had revealed there were a lot of areas in Tasmania which had poor pasture composition.

"We have developed specific varieties, in Tasmania, that suit our climate.

"This is important nationwide, for FCA, but there are specific areas in Tassie that can really lift their productivity, from undertaking these types of activities.

"Obviously some country we have got that is is more run country is more difficult to rehabilitate than some of the pastures than others."

Mr Hall said some of the new pastures that had been developed included tall fescue grass, Spanish Coxfoots and clovers.

"Certainly some of these new species will be very beneficial to some of the cropping programs that are being run in Tasmania," he said.

"Their longer lifespan will be very beneficial in rotations, and they probably have more resistance to insect attacks and grubs."

He emphasised it was not just pastures, but also carbon farming, climate risk management, agroforestry, soils and forage agronomy.

All underpinned the move to more sustainable pastures.

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