Farmer knowledge, attitudes and mitigation towards greenhouse gas emissions: Findings from the Victorian Farmer Surveys on Climate Change 2009 & 2011. — ASN Events

Farmer knowledge, attitudes and mitigation towards greenhouse gas emissions: Findings from the Victorian Farmer Surveys on Climate Change 2009 & 2011. (7754)

Imogen Schwarz 1 , Michelle Graymore 1 , Danielle Park 2 , Briana Brownell 3
  1. University of Ballarat, Horsham, Victoria, Australia
  2. Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Horsham, Victoria, Australia
  3. Insightrix Research, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

A large-scale longitudinal research project with 1306 Victorian farmers was conducted in 2009 and 2011 to monitor changes in knowledge, attitude and mitigation actions from four main agricultural sectors (Grains, Livestock, Mixed, Dairy). The two waves of data collection involved multimode surveys (telephone and online), with participants sourced from customer databases provided by Department of Primary Industries Victoria. This paper describes the changes that occurred over that time period in terms of farmers’ knowledge about on-farm emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG), attitudes to GHG and farming, and actions taken to mitigate GHG emissions on-farm now and in the future.
Since 2009, there have been no significant changes within each sector in terms of knowledge of greenhouse gas emissions balance on-farm: the proportion that believes they are net emitters, about neutral, or net storers of GHG emissions are consistent year-over-year. However, there has been a significant increase in knowledge of farm emissions from different sources such as livestock, on-farm energy usage, fertiliser use, soils and forests and vegetation). Whilst views are still divided across sectors about the impact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on farming, there has been a general trend towards farmers becoming more pessimistic about the impact of reducing GHG emissions on production and profitability.
Information was perceived to be a significant barrier to adoption of mitigating changes on-farm. Around 27% of farmers have made changes to mitigate GHG emissions, while 33% of farmers feel they do not have enough information to make a decision on what changes to make. Although the percentages are low, the Livestock sector is the most likely to have made changes to mitigate GHG emissions and considered carbon trading than the other sectors. The most common intended changes to mitigate GHG were planting trees, changes to soil management practices and improvements to farm energy efficiency.
This longitudinal research provides important social data for gauging farmer reactions to GHG across time. The findings of this research demonstrate that although farmer knowledge about GHG emission sources has increased, uncertainty about how to take advantage of opportunities in relation to emission trading or carbon markets, or the potential benefits of climate change is still evident. Given these apparent knowledge gaps highlighted by this research, empowering farmers through providing knowledge and skills about on-farm emissions balance and carbon management is required.