Targeting the knowledge gap

NSW Department of Primary Industries is working with a range of partners to identify opportunities and risks associated with climate change.

DPI research is targeting gaps in current knowledge in three distinct key areas - modelling, mitigation and adaptation.

Modelling is being done to improve understanding of the likely impacts of climate change on various primary industry sectors.

This work is being undertaken with the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.

The aim related to adaptation is to extend the coping range of various crops and animals to eliminate change, for example, through new plant varieties and species.

Mitigation research involves working out ways to help primary industries reduce their greenhouse footprint as well as sequester carbon, to offset emissions from both primary industries and other sectors.

Research DPI is undertaking in the field of agriculture includes: Livestock methane emissions NSW DPI is continuing research to:

  • Quantify the mitigation arising from selection of beef cattle for improved net feed efficiency in Australia, both at an individual animal and at a national herd level.
  • Quantify the animal productivity and methane mitigation benefits of modifying gut ecology by elimination of ciliate protozoa from the rumen.
  • Develop new methodologies for measurement of methane production by ruminant livestock, to estimate energy expenditure and potentially energetic efficiency of cattle.

Soil carbon sequestration through pasture management Pastures are important components of farming systems in NSW, providing diversity, maintaining soil fertility and with perennial pastures, reducing dryland salinity risks.

However, little information is available on the soil carbon sequestration potential of pastures in farming systems in southern NSW.

Using soil carbon data from two long-term field experiments (since 1979 and 1992) and regional sites in central and southern NSW, this project aims to quantify such soil carbon sequestration potential.

The data will then be used to identify the optimal management practices (pasture types, grazing and nutrient management) to maximise soil carbon sequestration under different farming systems, soil types and climatic conditions, using modelling.

Managing soil organic carbon NSW DPI is continuing research into use of recycled organics in agriculture and forestry as a soil amendment, to supply nutrients and sequester carbon, including application in mine site rehabilitation.

NSW DPI has started research into use of char as a soil amendment to sequester carbon, and improve water holding capacity and nutrient cycling.

Adaptation risk assessment NSW DPI has been awarded funding to conduct a project to build a Geographical Information System (GIS) based framework for assessing the risk of climate change for agricultural production systems.

This will provide a tool to assess the impact, vulnerability and potential adaptation options of the range of agricultural systems in NSW.