WA’s South West and Wheatbelt regions will be among the top 10% of places on earth where rainfall decline will be the most severe, driven by climate change, according to a report from Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre released last week.
Since the 1970s, there has been a 17% decline in average rainfall in South West and an 80% decline in the run-off to Perth dams. These trends are forecast to continue and for some, the current way of farming will need to dramatically shift.
The report, Green Shoots: Opportunities to grow a Sustainable WA Economy, identifies opportunities for the state to transition to a more sustainable and resilient economic future. It provides a report card, region by region and industry by industry on greenhouse gas emissions, use of fossil fuels, waste, water use and pollution, offering suggestions on how the management of these can be improved.
Regenerative agricultural practice is identified as an opportunity. It is defined as a systems-based approach to building soil carbon, low to zero tillage, crop diversification and rotation, ground cover crops, integrated pest management control and significantly reduced chemical use. Other opportunities include finding alternate crops that are less reliant on water, including the potential of native perennials and cereals.
The report focuses on fit-for-purpose land-use diversification opportunities. In the Wheatbelt where water and soil health are so critical, the key agricultural recommendations include expansion of meat processing and feedlots, fruit and tree nut diversification and the production of wine and beer. Several of these recommendations leverage the competitive advantages of the region’s close proximity to Perth and the capacity to supply essential inputs such as cereals and grains.
The full report can be found at https://bcec.edu.au/publications/green-shoots-opportunities-to-grow-a-sustainable-wa-economy/