A no-till perspective on adaptation: Matt McNee at the Master Class
Matthew McNee is the Research Manager for the WA No-Tillage Farmers Association. He provided the following report on his participation in the first Master Class.
The first PIARN Master Class held in Adelaide and Port Lincoln in November successfully facilitated discussions between agricultural professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Leading climate scientists explained the ‘simple physics’ of global warming – building a strong platform for discussions about climate adaptation strategies ‘on the ground’ in our primary industries. Local producers on the Eyre Peninsula re-enforced the reality of climate change when they described the changes and investments they had made and were planning to make on their farms to manage variable rainfall and more frequent droughts.
A challenge faced by conservation farmers retaining crop residues in the low rainfall cropping environments of Western Australia is slow change in soil organic carbon levels. Research has shown that soil organic carbon can improve the resilience of soils and crops to climatic stresses by improving soil water holding capacity and soil function. It was encouraging that the importance of maintaining soil health under a changing climate was stressed by invited speaker Harm van Rees, consultant to the Birchip Cropping Group. WANTFA is actively participating in research at two long-term trial sites to identify current cropping practices and alternative strategies that will increase soil carbon and crop productivity. The Master Class was a great opportunity to learn from other industries where strategies to improve soil health are also of great importance.
I envisage that the events in Canberra and Townsville will provide an opportunity to learn where federal government climate policy in the agricultural sector is leading us and how farmers are actively engaged with natural resource management in response to climate risk in their region.