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Improved grazing management practices in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia: does climate variability influence their adoption by landholders?

Star, Megan, Rolfe, John, Long, Peter, Whish, Giselle, Donaghy, Peter
The Rangeland journal 2015 v.37 no.5 pp. 507-515
agricultural management, attitudes and opinions, business enterprises, climate, grazing, grazing management, issues and policy, models, pollutants, uncertainty, variance, watersheds, Australia, Great Barrier Reef
The declining health of the Great Barrier Reef from diffuse source pollutants has resulted in substantial policy attention on increasing the adoption of improved management practices by agricultural producers. Although economic modelling indicates that many improved management practices are financially rewarding, landholders with dated management practices remain hesitant to change. This research involved bio-economic modelling to understand the variance in private returns for grazing enterprises across a climate cycle. Results show that financial returns to landholders can vary substantially across different 20-year periods of a climate cycle, demonstrating that the variability in expected returns may be an important reason why landholders are cautious about changing their management practices. Although previous research has separately identified financial returns and attitudes to risk and uncertainty of landholders as key influences on decisions concerning adoption of improved management practices, this research demonstrates that it is the interaction between these factors that is important to understand when designing policy settings.