A NSW Government website

Mixed cropping zone grazing systems

Climate change is likely to offer both opportunities and challenges for mixed cropping zone grazing systems in NSW by 2050.

Mixed cropping zone map. Map of NSW grazing systems areas used in the Vulnerability Assessment Project.Mixed cropping zone grazing systems in NSW

The mixed cropping zone (MCZ) represents the typical pastures of mixed livestock-cropping enterprises in the wheat-sheep belt of NSW. This is located west of the high rainfall zone regions and east of the rangelands in the Western Division of NSW. The map shows NSW grazing system areas used in the Vulnerability Assessment Project. A key assumption of this model is that it focuses only on pastures used for grazing in MCZ grazing systems, and not other pastures which may be present. Species typically found in this system are sown annual legumes, lucerne (a perennial legume) and native grasses, along with annual grazing crops such as wheat, oats and other broad-leaf forage species used in phased farming systems. The ability of this pasture system to meet the feed intake requirements of livestock was analysed using a winter lambing system with a 5.2 DSE/ha stocking rate, considered representative of livestock enterprises employing MCZ grazing.

The ability of MCZ grazing systems to meet feed intake requirements of livestock over each season was the primary focus of this assessment. The model incorporates the influence of rainfall, temperature and energy requirements of livestock, and considers both the quantity and quality of pasture.

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

Climate suitability for cattle is expected to maintain very high climate suitability across the entire state under both emissions scenarios.

Mixed cropping zone grazing system vulnerabilities

  • There is likely to be a minimal negative change in climate suitability in the MCZ in summer under a high emissions scenario (moderate to high confidence). Western areas of the MCZ are likely to decrease from high to moderate climate suitability.
  • There is likely to be a minimal to moderate decrease in climate suitability for MCZ pastures in autumn, becoming low to moderate by 2050 (moderate to high confidence), under both emissions scenarios.
  • Spring is likely to experience a minimal decline, to high climate suitability, in the west of the MCZ region (moderate confidence)under the high emissions scenario.

Mixed cropping zone grazing system opportunities

  • Winter is likely to continue to maintain high to very high climate suitability for MCZ pastures by 2050 (moderate to high confidence), under both emissions scenarios.

Adapting to the changing climate

Adapting to a reduction in feed

  • Changing stocking rates and the joining time of stock are relatively simple solutions that industry can implement. This will allow for periods of peak feed demand to be better aligned with periods of peak feed supply.

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).

Related Climate Vulnerability Assessments

Contact us

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