Perspectives on climate change : understanding how climate change will affect dairy, arable and sheep producers within Mid-Canterbury, New Zealand
Thesis DisciplineEnvironmental Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
New Zealand’s agricultural sector is susceptible to environmental, political, economic and institutional changes. A specific challenge for the sector is climate change. Climate change is likely to pose challenges and opportunities that agricultural producers will have to respond and adapt to in order to remain profitable. This thesis examines how climate change will affect dairy, arable and sheep producers within Mid-Canterbury. The study area has a diverse and productive agricultural sector, and this has been facilitated by the environmental setting and use of irrigation. A case-study methodology and semi-structured interviews were used to investigate how climate change will affect producers.
The findings of this research identified that farmers are sensitive to and exposed to multiple climatic and non-climatic sources of exposure, and this can make it difficult to adapt to climate change. The research also indicated that farmers perceived climate change in different ways. In general, understanding the causes of climate change did not encourage the use of adaptive measures. Awareness of how climate change could impact one’s farming practice motivated the use of adaptive measures including water efficiency measures and changing the timing of activities. Farmers within Mid-Canterbury employed a range of short-term and medium-term adaptive strategies that were in response to a climatic condition or event, but also to ensure productivity and economic returns. The research also indicated that many different actors have a role in adaptation and the use of long-term strategies can be facilitated by industry groups and supplier. These can act as boundary organisations who can influence behaviours, improve awareness and help develop relationships between different actors. Overall, this study provides insights into how climate change will affect agricultural producers in Mid-Canterbury, and how adaptation can be facilitated.