PIARN at the Australian Agronomy Conference
By Peter Hayman, Ross Kingwell and Deirdre Lemerle
The 15th Australian Agronomy Conference was held in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 15–18 November. Under a conference theme of Food security from sustainable agriculture, four of the conference's concurrent sessions had "climate change" in their title, indicating the importance of the topic for Australian Society of Agronomy researchers.
The proceedings are available at www.regional.org.au/au/asa/2010/index.htm
Given PIARN's aim of providing a network for people working in R&D on climate change adaptation in Australian agriculture, it seemed sensible for the Network to be a conference sponsor. The sponsorship provided an opportunity to increase awareness of both PIARN and NCCARF amongst delegates, and to engage in useful discussions on how PIARN could be of use in this R&D space.
Three members of the PIARN leadership team attended the conference: Ross Kingwell from University of Western Australia, Deirdre Lemerle from Charles Sturt University and Peter Hayman from the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Peter presented a paper titled 'Adapting to climate change in Australian farming systems: A network for applied R&D'.
A number of points evolved from discussions with delegates:
- Many people were unaware of PIARN and NCCARF, as might be expected given PIARN only started in February 2010. Some delegates indicated that they would circulate the PIARN information throughout their organisation.
- Quite a few people were getting emails from PIARN, but still keen to find out more about what was available.
- There was interest in the National Adaptation Research Plan as a guide to research directions.
- Interest is likely to range from occasional visits to the PIARN website to climate adaptation being central to an agronomist’s work. For most agronomists, PIARN will be one of a number of networks that they are involved with.
- Early career scientists were interested in information and networks; some busy mid career scientists asked whether PIARN would lead directly to funding opportunities.
- A suggestion was that PIARN could usefully organise a workshop on the modelling and measurement of crop development or phenology – the suggestion related to wheat and there was some discussion on whether this should be expanded to other plants.
- The question of exactly what constituted climate change adaptation in farming systems and what was simply sound practice in a variable, water-limited climate was raised by a number of agronomists.
- There was significant interest in the CCRSPI conference and some interest in Greenhouse 2011.
The agronomy conference presented PIARN with an opportunity to engage a broad group of agronomists involved in R&D relevant to adaptation for a warmer and more water-constrained future. In some cases this work is titled 'climate change adaptation', in many cases it is just sound agronomy.
Dr Peter Hayman is a Principle Scientist (Climate Applications) with the South Australian Research and Development Institute.
Professor Ross Kingwell is chief economist and professor at Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the University of Western Australia.
Professor Deirdre Lemerle is Director and Professor of Agricultural Innovation at the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation – an alliance between Charles Sturt University and Industry & Investment NSW.