A NSW Government website

Dryland barley

Climate change offers opportunities and challenges to dryland barley growing in NSW, with some regions expected to minimally increase in climate suitability by 2050.

Barley in NSW is grown in a belt west of the Great Dividing Range, stretching from Victoria to Queensland.Barley in NSW

Production of barley in NSW increased dramatically when land west of the Great Dividing Range was converted to agriculture. Originally used to make unleavened bread, it is now primarily used as animal feed and fermentable grain for alcoholic beverages such as beer and whisky. The map shows the major barley growing regions in NSW. Darker colours represent larger areas of barley grown.

Australian barley exports represent 30 to 40% of the world’s malting barley trade, and 20% of the feed barley trade. Barley is the second most widely grown cereal crop in NSW after wheat, with approximately 800,000 hectares of barley sown annually and an average yield of 2.2 tonnes per hectare during 2010–20.

The key barley phenophases assessed in this project include fallow rainfall, vegetative growth and reproductive growth. A LaTrobe type of spring barley with a yield of 6t/ha has been modelled in this assessment.

What is the NSW DPIRD Climate Vulnerability Assessment? ⏷

Climate change is altering the growing conditions for many agricultural commodities across NSW. Primary producers need evidence-based information about the changing climate, and the risks and opportunities it may bring.

The NSW DPIRD Climate Vulnerability Assessments are enhancing the resilience of our primary industries by providing information and data to help the sector better plan for, and respond to, climate change. They have assessed climate change impacts for extensive livestock, broadacre and irrigated cropping, marine fisheries, forestry, horticulture and viticulture, and important biosecurity risks associated with these industries to inform sound planning, risk management and adaptation decisions.

Learn more about the Climate Vulnerability Assessment.

How we assessed climate suitability ⏷

Climate projections were sourced from Climate Change in Australia’s ‘Application Ready Data’. This dataset is comprised of projections from an ensemble of 8 global climate models, each presenting a plausible future climate. The models differ in their projections, giving rise to uncertainty which is reflected in the confidence statements given in brackets. Care should be taken when interpreting these results.

The Climate Vulnerability Assessment is intended to highlight potential industry- or regional-level changes. Intermediate and high emissions scenarios were used in the assessments (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), but these are not the only future scenarios possible. The inclusion of climate variables important to the commodities production was based on published research, expert knowledge and data quality and availability.

Learn more in the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Project Framework.

Climate impacts: what to expect

Dryland barley growing regions in NSW are projected to maintain moderate climate suitability for growing barley by 2050 under both emissions scenarios. Some minimal increases in climate suitability may occur in the northern growing regions.

Dryland barley vulnerabilities

  • Rainfall patterns during the summer fallow period are likely to change, particularly in the north of the state. However, there is disagreement between global climate models as to what these changes will be and whether climate suitability will increase or decrease as a result.
  • Germination reliability could also be impacted due to reduced cool season rainfall in the north of the growing region (moderate confidence).

Dryland barley opportunities

  • The rapid early growth of barley expected under a warmer climate is likely to allow more time to grow larger plants and develop more heads and grains (high confidence).
  • Less frost under future climate scenarios is likely to result in minimal increases in climate suitability and greater barley yields in the northern growing regions (high confidence). The projected lower incidence of frost damage could reduce the importance of sowing strategies that avoid frosts and the need to develop frost-resistant barley.

Adapting to the changing climate

Adapting to changes in rainfall

  • The barley industry may need to consider sowing alternative crops, or increasing the area or frequency of dryland barley grown in the southern part of the growing region.

Where can I find the climate suitability maps?

Maps of historical and future climate suitability for commodities were produced to demonstrate where in the state a commodity is likely to thrive or else be limited by future climatic conditions. The maps are not provided on these webpages but can be found in the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Summary Report  (PDF, 41425.92 KB).

Dryland barley Factsheet

(PDF, 5783.1 KB)

Summary Report

(PDF, 41425.92 KB)

Related Climate Vulnerability Assessments

Contact us

For more information please email: vulnerability.assessment@dpi.nsw.gov.au