Climate Champion program

Program background

We wanted to enable Australian farmers and natural resource managers to manage the risks and exploit the opportunities that come from our variable and changing climate.

The MCV Climate Champion program aimed to help farmers manage climate risk by:

  • giving farmers the best climate tools, products, practices and seasonal outlooks, and an understanding of how they might use that in their farm business
  • giving climate researchers a chance to interact with farmers and get feedback about what regions and industries need from research.

Forty-two farmers from around Australia, representing most major agricultural commodities, took part in the program. They had opportunities to:

  • talk with researchers about the tools and information they need to help them manage climate risk
  • trial early research products and practices, and possibly influence the research
  • influence how research findings are communicated to farmers
  • help farmers in their region and industry learn how to deal with the variable and changing climate.

The program was also supported by our rural research and development partners:

The program was evaluated independently:

  • for its investment costs and benefits (impact assessment final report [PDF 1736 kb])
  • about what social and economic conditions and processes drive resource managers to make more significant, transformative shifts (CSIRO study summary [PDF 402 kb]).

Find out more about the program and read farmer profiles at our climate risk management portal: MCV Climate Champion program on Climate Kelpie. The 48-page Climate Champion book [PDF 5.3 MB] describes the program and profiles the farmers participating in March 2012.

Program summary

Rationale
Communication, including knowledge exchange, is crucial for helping producers become informed and confident about strategies to manage climate risk.

Increasing farmers’ knowledge and use of climate risk management tools and practices needs the type of communication that raises awareness, demonstrates clear benefits and clearly explains how best to select and use the tools, practices and services relevant to them.

Gillian Sanbrook—Beef cattle, Wymah Valley, NSW

Beginnings
The Climate Champion program was initiated in 2009 as a joint program between MCV and GRDC. It was formed in response to research that indicated that farmers were more likely to trust information from other farmers and to adopt practice changes in response to what their peers were doing.

There were 42 farmers/advisors around Australia who were actively communicating about climate risk and promoting the available tools to other farmers in their networks and regions (see Google Map below). Their case studies showcase the practices and farming systems that farmers and their advisors used to manage climate, especially their use of seasonal forecasting.

The majority of farmers who participated in an end-of-program survey believed that the program had positively influenced farmer attitudes and behaviours about climate risk management.

In addition to networking with other farmers, the Climate Champion farmers engaged personally with researchers. Through their interaction with Climate Champion farmers, MCV researchers have a better understanding of the needs of agricultural users and received valuable feedback to shape their research tools and products.

Of the researchers who participated in the 2016 survey, a large majority found the Climate Champion farmers were responsive and willing to listen, and rated the quality of the feedback received as high. One researcher commented, “I changed the sort of information I tried to forecast”.

 

 

Des and Jenan Cannon—Beekeeping in Urila, south-east NSW

Outcomes
The Climate Champion program created a core community of farmers, advisors and researchers who were not only driving climate risk research, but who were also extending research knowledge and tools to their networks through formal and informal activities.

The Climate Champion farmers established themselves as credible sources of climate risk information and made themselves accessible to other farmers and advisors within their communities.

Researchers who were involved in the program gained access to farmer networks and knowledge that would not have otherwise been available to them. Through the Climate Champion program, they directly and indirectly gained skills for communicating with farmers and their advisors about managing the risks of a variable climate.

Research contact

Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication—’Bringing Science to Life’
Phone: 07 3846 7111


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