The Climate Champion program arose after surveying farmers about climate research and tools: what did they want to know about weather and climate, and who did they trust as sources of information?
The survey had two main findings. Firstly, farmers live and die by the weather, and they want to know for their region when it’s going to rain, how much, how hot it will be and generally what the season promises. Secondly, farmers trust other farmers for advice, particularly about new practices and technologies, more readily than any other source.
The idea of using Climate Champion farmers to communicate with other farmers in their district was a direct reflection of these survey results. In this way, farmers have ready access to the voice of their peers who are tackling the daily challenges of maintaining or increasing food and fibre production in Australia’s highly variable climate.
The Climate Champion farmers are leaders in their communities who seek to translate climate science into real, effective, sustainable and financially viable practices on their farms. This results in real examples and practical evidence for other farmers of what works in the region and with their industries. The Climate Champion farmers are passionate, enthusiastic and keen to talk with other farmers about managing climate risk.
They directly provide feedback to climate researchers about their peers’ research needs. They also trial climate products, tools and adaptive practices with other farmers in their districts and industries. They influence how these findings are communicated to other farmers.
The Climate Champion farmers are avid consumers of new research, and are provided with relevant information on climate communication research papers and results; new decision-making tools and products; conferences, field days, workshops; and policy and legislation.
- Improve farmers’ understanding of climate
- Disseminate climate research knowledge
- Give feedback to researchers about farmers’ concerns and needs
- Increase adoption of practices and tools for managing climate risk
The Climate Champion program has been operating for about three and a half years. An independent evaluation has shown a cost–benefit ratio of 1:3, which is very encouraging for such a ‘young’ program. The evaluation showed, as well, evidence of its contribution to:
- Productivity gains and resultant higher average profits for farmers using climate risk management strategies
- Greater adoption of farm practices that improve farm environmental sustainability
- Improved industry viability due to greater preparedness and capacity to adapt to climate change
Find out more here: www.climatekelpie.com.au/ask-a-farmer/climate-champion-program