New industries for future climates

The University of Melbourne

  • Project code: PRJ-003154

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

  • Project completion date: Friday, April 30, 2010

  • National Priority: NEPI-RD&E to generate benefit across several plant industries


Climate change and the associated changes in policy settings will provide significant challenges to a number of Australia’s agricultural regions to maintain wealth generation and environmental sustainability. These changes could provide significant opportunities for other regions. One of the keys to providing greater resilience to Australia’s agricultural regions could be a greater diversity of cropping options better suited to future climates with greater water use efficiency and heat tolerance and a lighter greenhouse footprint.

This project will examine the potential for new crops either currently in the RIRDC New Rural Industries Portfolio or prospectively in this portfolio to provide new opportunities for a selection of 6 diverse geographical regions within Australian agriculture, representing a range of current and future climates. The project will use a case study approach in each of these regions to analyze potential challenges of future climates and greenhouse gas policy settings for current industry mixes to identify opportunities/need for new cropping species/enterprises.

Where these analyses identify a priori cases for new cropping species/ enterprises in future climates the adaptation options and mitigation/emission footprint consequences associated with the introduction of these species/enterprises will be investigated. Where promising opportunities are identified for future climates the requirements for the development of a full business case for further R & D investment in this area will be clearly outlined in a final report of the project.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

The University of Melbourne

Objective Summary

The objectives of the project are to :
Identify areas in both Southern and Northern Australia where climate change will mean that the current mix of agricultural enterprises will no longer be viable eg due to lower rainfall, higher temperatures or changed rainfall/temperature distributions.
Identify a subset of regions where there are no obvious other mainstream current enterprise (crop or livestock?) options for landholders and or where new industries are necessary for maintaining the resilience of the farming system.
Identify selection criteria essential for potential new enterprises in the selected regions in future climates e.g. water use efficiency and/or heat tolerance
For the selected areas, identify possible new enterprise options that could be viable in these areas, together with the resource and climate requirements for these industries (crops or livestock). These new enterprises may come from
the RIRDC New Crops Handbook
case studies
other international sources e.g. Isaraeli or Californian literature.
Identify the changes (eg practices, infrastructure, costs) that are necessary to initiate these enterprises at the farm and regional levels.
Conduct a broad cost/ benefit analysis and feasibility of change to the most feasible options
Prepare a preliminary business case for greater investment in R & D for new industries in the face of changing climates if this is warranted as a result of the above analysis