Climatic Change

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 167–181 | Cite as

Adapting dryland agriculture to climate change: Farming implications and research and development needs in Western Australia

  • Senthold AssengEmail author
  • David J. Pannell


The Western Australian wheat-belt has experienced more rainfall decline than any other wheat-cropping region in Australia. Future climate change scenarios suggest that the Western Australian wheat-belt is likely to see greater future reductions in rainfall than other regions, together with a further increase in temperatures. While these changes appear adverse for water-limited rain-fed agriculture, a close analysis of the changes and their impacts reveals a more complex story. Twentieth century changes in rainfall, temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration have had little or no overall impact on wheat yields. Changes in agricultural technology and farming systems have had much larger impacts. Contrary to some claims, there is no scientific or economic justification for any immediate actions by farmers to adapt to long-term climate change in the Western Australian wheat-belt, beyond normal responses to short-term variations in weather. Rather than promoting current change, the most important policy response is research and development to enable farmers to facilitate future adaptation to climate change. Research priorities are proposed.


Climate Change Soil Organic Carbon Future Climate Change Wheat Yield Global Circulation Model 
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 Dr Stephen Charles from CSIRO for supplying 50 GCM-generated rainfall series covering the period 2001–2050 for Katanning and Nirav Khimashia for assistance with data analysis. David Pannell acknowledges the Australian Research Council for funding.

Supplementary material

10584_2012_623_MOESM1_ESM.docx (245 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 245 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural & Biological Engineering DepartmentUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.CSIRO Plant IndustryWembleyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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