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Climate Change Research Strategy

Published 30 June 2022

Primary industries in NSW operate in one of the most variable climate in the world. Primary producers already deal with a changing and variable climate through responses to droughts, floods, storms, bushfires, pests and diseases. To ensure the continued growth of NSW Primary Industries, and safeguard the future of the regional communities, our $17.5 billion sector needs to be resilient and adaptable to changes in economic and environmental conditions.

Climate projections indicate that in the future, areas of NSW are likely to face decreasing winter and spring rainfall, increased intensity of extreme rainfall events, increasing day and night temperatures, fewer frosts and harsher fire weather. Evidence shows that these changes are already impacting on agricultural productivity, water availability, soils and the spread of pests, weeds and disease.

In addition to the challenges of a changing climate, energy security and energy affordability are becoming increasingly critical issues for primary industries. Whether its pumping water for irrigation, fuelling tractors and boat, or refrigerating packing sheds; energy is a fundamental input to the primary industries sector.

What is the Climate Change Research Strategy

Supported by an investment of $29.2 million from the NSW Climate Change Fund, the Strategy will invest in project and program areas that could support the primary industries sector to adapt to climate change.

The Strategy seeks to identify through research and innovation:

  • energy supply and demand solutions
  • carbon market and emission reduction opportunities, and
  • climate resilience building programs

These programs will enable our primary industries to prepare for the challenges and opportunities climate change presents. The results of this research will be used to inform producers and industry of opportunities for timely and appropriate responses to the changing climate and national carbon markets. The results will be also be used by NSW DPI to inform forward work programs and policy to support the long term sustainability of primary industries for NSW.

Research Strategy Projects and theme areas

The Strategy is comprised of 3 main themes:

This image shows the CCRS 3 themes of energy, carbon opportunities and climate resilience


Energy is a new area of research for NSW DPI and is divided into 2 key areas of research.

The first key area is energy efficiency and clean energy solutions which is driven by agriculture’s historically poor energy productivity, particularly in energy intensive industries. These 2 projects are:

  • tackling barriers to uptake of clean energy solutions in agricultural industries
  • piloting clean energy and energy efficiency technologies
  • providing simple information to help farmers make informed decisions

The second key area of research is in bioenergy (where biomass is used to generate energy). This project is:

  • trialling native woody species as short-rotation tree crops for biomass production on marginal farmland
  • researching the feasibility of biomass as a fuel source for energy generation
  • investigating ways of optimising material handling and storage of biomass to improve efficiency and reduce costs;
  • carrying out technological and economic feasibility assessments of bioenergy;
  • developing technological and economic assessment tools for stakeholders; and
  • engaging with the broader community to improve understanding of bioenergy and its opportunities.

Carbon Opportunities

The carbon opportunities theme has two projects trying to solve problems with carbon markets from both a policy perspective and from a farmer involvement perspective. Mitigating climate change and sequestering carbon is an important opportunity for primary industries to participate in the global efforts for net zero emissions and to diversify on-farm income.

The Emissions Reduction Pathways project is considering all the policy barriers to landholder in carbon markets. This includes investigation of livestock, cropping, and farm management opportunities that are currently not well catered for in the Emission Reduction Fund methodologies.

The Accessing Carbon Markets project is about enabling farmers to better engage with carbon markets through information and decision support tools.

Climate Resilience

The projects in this theme are working to understand how primary industries can best adapt to climate change and the new conditions and risks it brings.

The Vulnerability Assessment project is identifying the risks and opportunities of a changing climate for key commodities and biosecurity risks in NSW. In total, 28 commodities across cropping, extensive livestock, horticulture, viticulture, forestry and fisheries and 14 related biosecurity risks (weeds, pests and diseases) are being investigated. Results will provide industry and policy makers with a state-wide assessment of the vulnerability of NSW agriculture to a changing climate and identify adaption strategies that could mitigate identified climate risks.

Climate Smart Pilots is the second project in this theme and it is assessing the value of technological support to enhance management decisions in a changing climate. Using a range of digital sensors such as humidity sensors, soil moisture probes, trough and tank level sensors combined with weather stations to provide real-time data to support decision making in the real world.