Skip to main content

Adaptation in agriculture: lessons for resilience from eastern regions of New Zealand

Abstract

Assessments of adaptation in agriculture have evolved considerably from early, top-down, impact assessments. These early assessments, internationally and in New Zealand, provided a limited view of ‘smart farmer’ adaptation. While impact assessment provides some useful insights, experience with vulnerability and adaptation assessment provides a more appropriate foundation for understanding and characterising practical smart farmer adaptation. Findings are presented from 8 years of engagement with farmers in eastern regions of New Zealand. A comprehensive farm resilience picture has emerged from this work. This picture reflects a strong belief from real-world smart farmers that there is sufficient knowledge and experience to adapt to climate change. Proactive farmers are already reading multiple signals, including changes in climate, and are responding. The farm resilience picture provides a foundation for exploring alternative adaptation options and pathways for agriculture. These are presented and discussed in response to two proposed climate change scenarios, a high carbon world scenario and a rapidly decarbonising world scenario. Knowledge intensive, low input systems are consistent with the resilience picture drawn from farmers. Such systems are also consistent with a rapidly decarbonising world scenario and, it is argued, are likely to become increasingly attractive under a high carbon world scenario. A smart farming approach, focused on resilience, provides the basis for development of a response capacity, with potentially significant co-benefits in terms of adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Wider issues and needs to support the further development of farm resilience, and more widely landscape or regional resilience, are identified and discussed. It is apparent from this work that ongoing engagement with smart farmers, focused on resilience, can contribute significantly to development of a coordinated ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ response capacity. Addressing the psychology of change is a fundamental need to ensure wider engagement.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adger WN, Agrawala S, Mirza MMQ, Conde C, OBrien K, Pulhin J, Pulwarty R, Smit B, Takahashi R (2007) Assessment of adaptation practices, options, constraints and capacity. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 717–743

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aitken AG, Kerr JP, Hewett EW, Hale CN (Martech Consulting Group Ltd), Nixon, C (NZ Institute for Economic Research) (2005) ZESPRI’s KiwiGreen programme—world firsts in this vital crop management system. Growing futures case study series 2. Available online at: http://www.martech.co.nz/images/02kiwi.pdf. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  3. Altieri MA, Letourneau DK (1982) Vegetation management and biological control in agroecosystems. Crop Prot 1:405–430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Berry W (1977) The unsettling of America: culture and agriculture. Sierra Club Books, p 234

  5. Campbell JR, de Wet N, Kenny GJ, Warrick RA (1999) The PICCAP guidelines for the preparation of national V & A statements. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Apia

    Google Scholar 

  6. Carter TR, Parry ML, Porter JH (1991) Climatic change and future agroclimatic potential in Europe. Int J Climatol 11:251–269

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Carter TR, Parry ML, Harasawa H, Nishioka S (1994) IPCC technical guidelines for assessing climate change impacts and adaptations. University College London, United Kingdom, p 59

    Google Scholar 

  8. Darwin R, Tsigas R, Lewandrowski J, Raneses A (1995) World agriculture and climate change: economic adaptations. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Economic Report Number 703

  9. Earthwise Consulting and NIWA (2009) Adapting to a changing climate: what it means for dairy farmers in coastal Bay of Plenty. Available online at: http://www.maf.govt.nz/sff/about-projects/search/LC08-023/fact-sheet-cc.pdf. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  10. Easterling WE, Crosson PR, Rosenberg NJ, McKenney MS, Katz LA, Lemon KM (1993) Agricultural impacts of and responses to climate change in the Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas (MINK) region. Clim Change 24:23–61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Feresi J, Kenny G, de Wet N, Limalevu L, Bhusan J, Ratukalou I (eds) (2000) Climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment for Fiji. Fiji Pacific Island Climate Change Assistance Programme, Government of Fiji, Suva, Fiji, and International Global Change Institute, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand

    Google Scholar 

  12. Füssel H-M, Klein RJT (2006) Climate change vulnerability assessments: an evolution of conceptual thinking. Clim Change 75:301–329

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hill SB (1985) Redesigning the food system for sustainability. Alternatives 12(3/4):32–36

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hill SB (1991) Ecological and psychological prerequisites for the establishment of sustainable prairie agricultural communities. In: Martin J (ed) Alternative futures for praire agricultural communities. Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, pp 197–229

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hill SB (1998) Redesigning agroecosystems for environmental sustainability: a deep systems approach. Syst Res 15:391–402

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. House GJ, Brust GE (1989) Ecology of low-input, no-tillage agroecosystems. Agric Ecosyst Environ 27:331–345

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Howard SA (1940) An agricultural testament. Oxford University Press, p 253

  18. IPCC (1990) The IPCC response strategies: report of working group III. Island Press, USA, p 270

    Google Scholar 

  19. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 976

    Google Scholar 

  20. Kenny G (2002) Climate change and land management in Hawke’s Bay: a pilot study on adaptation. HBRC plan no 3083, Ministry for the Environment, Wellington, p 25

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kenny G (2005) Adapting to climate change in eastern New Zealand: a farmer perspective. Earthwise Consulting Limited, Hastings, NZ, 147 p. Available online at: http://www.earthlimited.org/accenz.html. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  22. Kenny G (2006a) Changing attitudes and practice for farming dry land in Marlborough. Adapting to climate change. Report on Phase 1 (April 2006)

  23. Kenny G (2006b) Adapting to climate change: a view from the ground. Background paper written for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s sustainability review. Available online at: http://www.pce.parliament.nz/reports_by_subject/all_reports/sustainable_development/sustainability_review_background_papers . Accessed on 9 December 2009

  24. Kenny G (2008) Adapting to climate change in the kiwifruit industry. Report to MAF Policy Climate Change - ‘Plan of Action’ Research Programme 2007-08

  25. Kenny G, Fisher M (2003) The view from the ground: a farmer perspective on climate change and adaptation. Earthwise Consulting Limited and the Hawke’s Bay Climate Change Adaptation Group, Hastings, NZ, p 40. Available online at: http://www.earthlimited.org/accenz.html. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  26. Kenny GJ, Harrison PA, Parry ML (eds) (1993a) The effect of climate change on agricultural and horticultural potential in Europe. Environmental Change Unit, Oxford, p 224

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kenny GJ, Harrison PA, Parry ML (1993b) Introduction: the effects of climate change on agriculture and horticulture in Europe. Eur J Agron 2(4):243–246

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kenny GJ, Warrick RA, Mitchell ND, Mullan AB, Salinger MJ (1995) CLIMPACTS: an integrated model for assessment of the effects of climate change on the New Zealand environment. J Biogeogr 22:883–895

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kenny GJ, Warrick RA, Sims GC, Mirza MQ, Ericksen NJ, Ye W (1998) Effects of climate change on riverine flooding and land use in Bangladesh: development and application of an integrated assessment model, BDCLIM. Project report to Ford Foundation, IGCI, University of Waikato

  30. Kenny GJ, Warrick RA, Campbell BD, Sims GC, Camilleri M, Jamieson PD, Mitchell ND, McPherson HG, Salinger MJ (2000) Investigating climate change impacts and thresholds: an application of the CLIMPACTS integrated assessment model for New Zealand agriculture. Clim Change 46:91–113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kenny G, Eyles G, Halliday M (2009) Adapting to climate change in hill country Hawke’s Bay: farmer interview summaries. Available online at: http://www.maf.govt.nz/sff/about-projects/search/C08-022/adapting-to-climate-change-hb.pdf. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  32. Klein RJT, Huq S, Denton F, Downing TE, Richels RG, Robinson JB, Toth FL (2007) Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 745–777

    Google Scholar 

  33. MacRae RJ, Hill SB, Henning J, Bentley AJ (1990) Policies, programs, and regulations to support the transition to sustainable agriculture in Canada. Am J Altern Agric 5:76–92

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Madden RA, Kidson JW (1997) The potential long-range predictability of temperature over New Zealand. Int J Climatol 17:483–495

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Madden RA, Shea DJ, Katz RW, Kidson JW (1999) The potential long-range predictability of precipitation over New Zealand. Int J Climatol 19:405–421

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Martin RJ, Salinger MJ, Williams MW (1990) Agricultural industries. In Climatic change: impacts on New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand

    Google Scholar 

  37. May C, Kenny G (2000) Capacity building for sustainable community development, Bac Kan Province, Northern Viet Nam. End of assignment report for Asia Development Assistance Facility, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  38. Merrill R (ed) (1976) Radical agriculture. New York University Press, New York, p 459

    Google Scholar 

  39. MfE (2008) Climate change effects and impacts assessment. A guidance manual for local government in New Zealand. 2nd edn. Prepared by Mullan B, Wratt D, Dean S, Hollis M (NIWA); Allan S, Williams T (MWH NZ Ltd), Kenny G (Earthwise Consulting Ltd), in consultation with Ministry for the Environment. NIWA Client Report WLG2007/62, February 2008, 156 p. Available online at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate/effects-impacts-may04. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  40. Mullan AB, Porteous A, Wratt D, Hollis M (2005) Changes in drought risk with climate change. NIWA report to Ministry for the Environment, May 2005. Available online at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate/drought-risk-may05. Accessed on 2 December 2009

  41. Odum HT (1971) Environment, power, and society. Wiley-Interscience, New York, p 28

    Google Scholar 

  42. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (2001) Weaving resilience into our working lands: future roles for native plants on private land. Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, p 97

  43. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (2004) Growing for good: intensive farming, sustainability and New Zealand’s environment. Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, p 238

  44. Parry ML, Carter TR, Hulme M (1996) What is dangerous climate change? Glob Environ Change 6:1–6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Parry M, Carson I, Rehman T, Tranter R, Jones P, Mortimer D, Livermore M, Little J (1999) Economic implications of climate change on agriculture in England and Wales. Research Report Number 1, Jackson Environment Institute, University College London

    Google Scholar 

  46. Pimentel D, Goodman N (1978) Ecological basis for the management of insect populations. Oikos 30:422–437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Reisinger A, Mullan AB, Manning M, Wratt DW, Nottage RAC (2010) Global and local climate change scenarios to support adaptation in New Zealand. In: Nottage RAC, Wratt DS, Bornman JF, Jones K (eds) Climate change adaptation in New Zealand: future scenarios and some sectoral perspectives. New Zealand Climate Change Centre, Wellington, pp 26–43

    Google Scholar 

  48. Rogers EM (1964) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, Glencoe, p 219

    Google Scholar 

  49. Rosenberg NJ (1992) Adaptation of agriculture to climate change. Clim Change 21:385–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Rosenzweig C, Iglesias A (eds) (1994) Implications of climate change for international agriculture: crop modelling study. United States Environmental Protection Agency

  51. Rosenzweig C, Parry ML (1994) Potential impact of climate change on world food supply. Nature 367:133–138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Salinger MJ, Williams MW, Williams JM, Martin RJ (1990) Agricultural resources. In Climatic change: impacts on New Zealand. Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand, pp 108–132

    Google Scholar 

  53. Schumacher EF (1973) Small is beautiful. Blond and Briggs Ltd, Great Britain

    Google Scholar 

  54. Smit B, Wandel J (2006) Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 16:282–292

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Smit B, McNabb D, Smithers J (1996) Agricultural adaptation to climate change. Clim Change 33:7–29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Smit B, Pilifosova O, Burton I, Challenger B, Huq S, Klein RJY,Yohe G (2001) Adaptation to Climate change in the context of sustainable development and equity. Chapter 18. In: McCarthy JJ, Canziani OF, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS (eds) IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom

    Google Scholar 

  57. Statistics New Zealand (2001) New Zealand: an urban/rural profile. Statistics New Zealand

  58. Stinner BR, House GJ (1988) The role of ecology in lower input, sustainable agriculture. An introduction. Am J Altern Agric 2:146–147

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Swaffield S (2008) Sustaining the country: ideals, opportunities and imperatives for future rural landscapes. Presented at environmental defence society 2008 conference ‘conflict in paradise: the transformation of rural New Zealand’, Auckland, 11–12 June 2008. Available online at: http://www.edsconference.com/conference_papers.cfm. Accessed on 9 December 2009

  60. Tompkins EL, Adger WN (2005) Defining response capacity to enhance climate change policy. Environ Sci Policy 8:562–571

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Van Emden HF, Williams GF (1974) Insect stability and diversity in agroecosystems. Annu Rev Entomol 19:455–475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Warrick RA, Kenny GJ, Sims GC, Ericksen NJ, Ahmad QK, Mirza MQ (1996) Integrated model systems for national assessments of the effects of climate change: applications in New Zealand and Bangladesh. J Water Air Soil Pollut 92:215–227

    Google Scholar 

  63. Warrick RA, Kenny GJ, Harman JJ (eds) (2001) The effects of climate change and variation in New Zealand: an assessment using the CLIMPACTS system. International Global Change Institute, University of Waikato, p 46

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gavin Kenny.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kenny, G. Adaptation in agriculture: lessons for resilience from eastern regions of New Zealand. Climatic Change 106, 441–462 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-010-9948-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Response Capacity
  • Climate Change Vulnerability
  • Climate Change Science
  • Adaptation Pathway