7104.0.55.002 - Agriculture in Focus: Farmers' Perception of a Change in Climate, 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/08/2009  First Issue
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The main findings of the 2006-07 Natural Resource Management survey reported in Farm Management and Climate, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4625.0) were:

    • 65.6% of the 150,403 Australian agricultural businesses in 2006-07 indicated that the climate affecting their holding had changed and 62.4% reported that the perceived change in climate had an impact on their holding.
    • 75.4% of the 98,661 agricultural businesses reporting that they considered the climate affecting their holding had changed reported that they had changed their management practices as a result of this perceived change.
    • The most commonly reported perceived change in climate affecting the holding was a change in rainfall patterns (92.1%) followed by more extreme weather events (74.2%) and warmer temperatures (49.6%).
    • Agricultural businesses in the Northern Territory were less likely to report that they considered the climate on their holding had changed (31.8%) compared to a high of 74.2% in Victoria.
    • The most commonly reported impact on the holding was a decreased level of production (88.8%) followed by an increased frequency or extent of pests, weeds or disease (55.5%). In contrast, a small proportion of agricultural businesses reported a decreased frequency or extent of pests, weeds or disease (19.5%) and an increased level of production (15.2%).
The most common alteration to management practices by land holders who perceived a change to climate was modification to the intensity of cropping and/or grazing activities (69.3%). The next most common alterations were changed watering/ irrigation practices (32.7%) and changed rotation or fallow practices (31.9%).

Appendix 1 presents the questionnaire used to collect these statistics. The key question elicited a yes/no response to: "Do you consider the climate (average temperature, rainfall patterns, evaporation, etc.) affecting your holding has changed?"

Many of the responses reported in Farm Management and Climate, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4625.0) relied on the perceptions and views of the person completing the questionnaire. Whilst these responses provide a useful source of information, they may not reflect reality and can be different to data collected by other means, such as physical measurement. Furthermore, perceptions can be influenced by the circumstances prevailing at the time of the survey. For example, in 2006-07 parts of Australia were hotter and drier than normal and this could have influenced responses to questions asked in this survey. Appendix 2 provides background information on climate change in Australia from Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) records.