Climate applications

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Climate Applications Science Program works with primary industries to improve the assessment and management of climate risk and the adaptation of crops to environmental stresses.

We have experience in agro-climatic analysis and crop ecophysiology for key dryland and irrigated industries. Our work involves regular interaction with climate science from CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Australian universities, and a network of international collaborators.

Applying advances in climate and crop science will enable South Australian primary industries to exploit opportunities in good seasons and manage the risks in the poor seasons. This application will enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers who deal with dry and erratic climate, and typically unfertile soils with low capacity to buffer moisture stress in southern Australia.

As Australia’s driest state, South Australia is vulnerable to both season-to-year climate variability, and longer term changes to a hotter and most likely drier climate. Natural and agricultural systems in South Australia are exposed and sensitive to adverse changes and fluctuations in climatic conditions. However, recent seasons have shown that there are coping strategies available from existing and emerging technologies.

We work closely with SARDI Viticulture, Farming Systems, Crop Improvement researchers to improve the ability of our state’s grains, wine grape and almond industries to manage risks associated with a warmer and water-constrained future.

Dr Peter Hayman leads this program, which has 2 subprograms:

  • Managing Climate Risk
  • Crop Ecophysiology

Subprograms and research focus

Managing Climate Risk

This subprogram has a strong track record of working with industry to improve climate risk management.

Research projects within this subprogram include:

  • Managing almond production in a variable and changing climate.
  • Regional assessment of climate and water risks and opportunities for South Australian irrigated industries.
  • Assessing climate risk for viticulture (led by Antarctic Ecosystems CRC).
  • Action ready knowledge for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Philippines.
  • Improving the usefulness of seasonal climate forecasts in Australian agricultural industries.
  • Climate information to manage frost and heat extremes in the Australian grains industry (led by CSIRO).

Recently completed projects include:

  • Can advances in mid-term weather forecasts reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser? Led by Queensland Institute of Technology.
  • Assessing transformational change for crop and livestock systems in a changing climate (led by CSIRO).
  • Can advances in mid-term weather forecasts reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser? Led by Queensland University of Technology, this project:
    • investigates whether advances in mid-term weather forecasts can improve farm management practices to reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser
    • assesses how different fertiliser regimes can mitigate nitrous oxide emissions under forecast scenarios.

Subprogram contact

Dr Peter Hayman
Phone: (08) 8303 9729

Crop Ecophysiology

Crop production can be improved with better varieties and better practices. Our research in ecophysiology thus interfaces with breeding, agronomy or both. This subprogram focusses on the measurement and modelling of the water, carbon and nitrogen economies of annual crops (wheat, pea, chickpea, maize, soybean, cotton, sunflower) and perennial crops (grapevine, olive) in rain-fed and irrigated systems.

We are interested in the agronomic and genetic adaptation of crops to environmental stresses, including extreme temperatures, water deficit, lack of nutrients particularly nitrogen and soil constraints including compaction and salinity.

Victor Sadras leads the Crop Ecophysiology subprogram, with established national (UQ, UA, UWA, CSIRO, state departments of agriculture) and international collaborations in China, US, Spain, France, Kenya, Chile and Argentina.

The team's research interests include:

  • Theoretical model of crop yield in annual species.
  • Capture and efficiency in the use of water in wheat-based dryland systems.
  • Yield gap analysis at the crop and farm level. New methods are being developed to define and measure farm-level gaps.
  • Adaptation of pulses to abiotic stresses, including drought and thermal stress.
  • Adaptation and physiology of vine yield, berry composition and wine attributes in response to thermal and water stress.
  • Capture and efficiency in the use of nitrogen in grain crops.
  • Water-nitrogen co-limitation in wheat and canola; remote sensing tools.
  • Maternal effects in wheat.

Subprogram contact

Assoc Prof Victor Sadras
Phone: (08) 8303 9661

Program leader

Dr Peter Hayman
Science Leader, Climate Adaptation
SARDI Sustainable Systems
GPO Box 397 Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (08) 8303 9729

Page Last Reviewed: 14 Jul 2016
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