Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 113, Issue 1–2, pp 225–245 | Cite as

Adapting agriculture to climate change: a review

  • Muhuddin Rajin Anwar
  • De Li Liu
  • Ian Macadam
  • Georgina Kelly
Original Paper


The agricultural sector is highly vulnerable to future climate changes and climate variability, including increases in the incidence of extreme climate events. Changes in temperature and precipitation will result in changes in land and water regimes that will subsequently affect agricultural productivity. Given the gradual change of climate in the past, historically, farmers have adapted in an autonomous manner. However, with large and discrete climate change anticipated by the end of this century, planned and transformational changes will be needed. In light of these, the focus of this review is on farm-level and farmers responses to the challenges of climate change both spatially and over time. In this review of adapting agriculture to climate change, the nature, extent, and causes of climate change are analyzed and assessed. These provide the context for adapting agriculture to climate change. The review identifies the binding constraints to adaptation at the farm level. Four major priority areas are identified to relax these constraints, where new initiatives would be required, i.e., information generation and dissemination to enhance farm-level awareness, research and development (R&D) in agricultural technology, policy formulation that facilitates appropriate adaptation at the farm level, and strengthening partnerships among the relevant stakeholders. Forging partnerships among R&D providers, policy makers, extension agencies, and farmers would be at the heart of transformational adaptation to climate change at the farm level. In effecting this transformational change, sustained efforts would be needed for the attendant requirements of climate and weather forecasting and innovation, farmer’s training, and further research to improve the quality of information, invention, and application in agriculture. The investment required for these would be highly significant. The review suggests a sequenced approach through grouping research initiatives into short-term, medium-term, and long-term initiatives, with each initiative in one stage contributing to initiatives in a subsequent stage. The learning by doing inherent in such a process-oriented approach is a requirement owing to the many uncertainties associated with climate change.


Climate Change Emission Scenario Crassulacean Acid Metabolism Palmer Drought Severity Index Farm Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the NSW Department of Primary Industries for the full support of the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhuddin Rajin Anwar
    • 1
    • 2
  • De Li Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ian Macadam
    • 3
  • Georgina Kelly
    • 4
  1. 1.Wagga Wagga Agricultural InstituteNSW Department of Primary IndustriesWagga WaggaAustralia
  2. 2.EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (an alliance between NSW Department of Primary Industries and Charles Sturt University)Wagga WaggaAustralia
  3. 3.Climate Change Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.NSW Department of Primary IndustriesBeecroftAustralia

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