How can agriculture producers in Hawke’s Bay adapt to climate change?

15 July 2020

Agriculture is sensitive to changes in climate, as land management and use decisions and practices have routinely been developed with the current climate in mind. Rural New Zealand communities are especially reliant on agriculture for income, and therefore these communities must make adaptions to climate change to prosper within a healthy social, economic and cultural environment. 

A study was conducted in the Wairoa and Karamu catchments which support some of New Zealand’s most productive primary industries, including high-value horticulture and viticulture, intensive dairying, livestock production and forestry. The researchers gathered information from climate modelling, and insights from experts and stakeholders through structured interviews and workshops. The participatory approach created a shared understanding of climate issues facing agricultural producers in the region, while providing space to discuss and generate potential adaption strategies to these issues. The results were used to create a preliminary pathway planning model, showing how the region may adjust practices, processes, capital and infrastructure to adapt to climate change.

A range of adaption strategies were identified. In the horticulture sector some of these could include changing crop varieties (e.g. to introduce greater drought tolerance) or production practices (e.g. covered systems to protect fruit from extreme weather events) to mitigate climate risks, or planting new crops that take advantage of new microclimates in the region (e.g. planting nut crops).

These results provide a basis for further experimentation, and can help to inform and empower stakeholders to implement actions towards climate adapted futures.

Journal reference

Cradock-Henry NA, Blackett P, Hall M, Johnstone P, Teixeira E, Wreford A 2020. Climate adaptation pathways for agriculture: Insights from a participatory process. Environ Sci Policy 107: 66–79.