Park, S.E., Crimp, S., Inman-Bamber, N.G., and Everingham, Y.L. (2010) Sugarcane. In: Stokes, Chris, and Howden, Mark, (eds.) Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, pp. 85-99.
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It is likely that the greatest direct climate change impact (and adaptation challenge) on Australian sugarcane production will be the projected change in the amount, frequency and intensity of future rainfall. In many of the sugarcane growing regions the amount of effective rainfall available to the crop will be reduced, while demand is likely to increase due to increased rates of evapotranspiration linked to atmospheric warming.
A range of adaptation strategies (both tactical and strategic) is needed across the entire sugar cane industry value chain if it is to remain sustainable under a changing climate. Strategies must be tailored to individual mill regions to take account of location-specific biophysical and logistical impacts.
Adaptation options available to the sugarcane industry include improvements to the management of limited water supplies; technological fixes based on reductionist analysis; engineering design principles, or computer-aided modelling; altered cropping system design and agronomic management; enhanced utilisation of decision-making tools, and effective institutional change (Park et al. 2007a).
Building capacity through targeted extension, improving skills and providing a more industry-wide knowledge base are all essential for future adaptation.
Many adaptation strategies involve an enhancement or extension of existing activities aimed at building resilience to climatic variability. Additional longer-term adaptation options will also need to be iteratively developed and evaluated in an adaptive management context if the industry is to remain sustainable into the future.