Using technology to adapt dryland farming practices to a changing climate

Find out how farmers are adapting to climate change using technology.

Mick Griffin

I’m Mick Griffin and with my wife Jane and my family we are running a mixed farm enterprise.  We’ve had two years of exceptional rainfall.  But is that rainfall what we need and with the crops we are growing – is the enterprise going to be sustainable? Climate adaptation means we might have to change some of our farming practices.

Kerri Robson

Farmers understanding their moisture levels, their soil temperatures, their weather, can map their paddocks and actually put the right application of fertiliser on the paddock which is better cost-effective wise but also for the environment.

Kerri Robson

Using technology in dryland farming systems and adaptation to climate change is all about how we can use technology to make better decisions on our farming systems.

Damien Gerrans

This project was about supporting dryland farmers, so non-irrigation farmers, in using technology. The soil moisture probe is an 80 centimetre capacitance probe that measures soil temperature and moisture in ten centimetre increments. Each probe has a 4G unit that sends the data remotely. And then the weather station collects wind direction, speed, humidity, temperature and rainfall.  The data is stored on the website so that the landholders can look back at previous trends and see what’s happening in real time.

Mick Griffin

The use of technology has helped us on the farm with if you’re looking at applying nitrogen fertiliser to finish the crop, and you’re unsure how much available moisture you have got, and with urea prices at the moment, it’s good to be well informed. And with the weather monitoring side of it just to keep an eye on frost events, to know whether to look for frost damages in some crops has been a huge plus.

Kerri Robson

It’s exciting that the farmer can take what they want from it, but our soil scientist and departments within AgVic and DELWP can take what they want from it as well.  That sharing of information is really important.

Brad Costin

Farmers often rely on big investments and will want to have a high degree of confidence in the decision they’re going to make. So that peer to peer learning is important because that’ll be across similar or neighbouring farms where they can road test a lot of approaches and technology and practices and learn a lot from other farmers.

Mick Griffin

You can look over the fence at someone that’s doing something slightly different to you and think, ‘Wow, that’s working great.’ ‘Perhaps I should try that’ or something that’s not working great and you say, ‘Well, don’t think I’ll have a go at that’.  You know, you can tap into some of the resources that they’re using to get better information.

Kerri Robson

Even with all the technology, when you’re dealing with everyday farming and livestock, they can still work against you. One of the landholders forgot where the cable was and cut the cable in half.  In one of our other sites the sheep got in and chewed the cable. But every one of the farmers where those little accidents occurred got straight on to us and said, ‘Our data is not there’. ‘What’s going on, Kerri?’ ‘You know, we’ve got so used to using this now.’

Mick Griffin

Our decisions we’re making with the management of our farm are better informed.  That’s only going to benefit us more when we get a dry season. So my message to other farmers would be you’ve just got to grab the bull by the horns. Sometimes you just don’t realise the benefits. We’ve found that with this weather station and soil probe. Some of the information that we didn’t think would even be relevant to us, yeah, can be very useful at times. So it’s been fantastic.

This project is helping farmers adapt to climate change, through the use of new technology to assist with farm management.

The Gecko Clan Landcare Network, with support from the National Landcare Program and the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, established three dryland farming technology demonstration sites across the Hume region to monitor soil temperature and moisture, as well as local rainfall.  At each demonstration site, a soil probe with a 4G unit sends data remotely to a weather station that collects wind direction, speed, humidity, temperature and rainfall data.  The combined data is stored on the Gecko Clan website so landholders can access the information to inform better decision-making.

Following the establishment of each monitoring site, a local field day was held to provide information to land managers about how to access and use the data.

Climate change forecasts for the Hume region predict increased overall temperatures, more intense rainfall events and less rainfall in autumn, winter and spring. Local information is essential in adapting dryland farming practices to these events.

The network of monitoring sites has improved the information available to dryland farmers to help them make better land management decisions while adapting to climate change.

This project has had the additional benefits of connecting farmers and encouraging learning from each other, especially in challenging times.

Project Lead Organisation: Gecko Clan Landcare Network

Project Partners: Goulburn Broken CMA, National Landcare Network, Agriculture Victoria

Strathbogie Council, Benalla Council, Balmattum-Shean's Creek Landcare Group, Warby Ranges Landcare Group, Sheep Pen Creek Landcare Group

Project location and DELWP Region: Lake Rowan – Yorta Yorta and Bangerang Country, Hume Region

Victorian Government funding program: Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) Grants program

Grant funding received: $73,000

Funds from project lead and partner organisations:  $25,000

Overall project cost: $98,000

Is this grant project part of a larger piece of adaptation work? Beyond the scope of the grant, further work has been implemented to characterise the soil type at each host location and add this information to the Gecko Clan website and the Agriculture Victoria website. Additional information sessions have also taken place to increase awareness and utilisation of the data and the technology available.

For more information: Visit the Gecko Clan website.

CARYA: A youth climate adaptation story

Find out how young people in Melbourne’s North are becoming climate and community leaders.

Wesley Grey

Climate adaptation is so important because climate change isn't going to happen in 2050, it's here.

Hansani Abedheera Liyan Patabendige

When there's bush fires happening, I'm like, oh, this is really stressful. I didn't even know there was climate anxiety, till like I, they actually talked about it, and I'm like, oh, okay this is the real thing.

Wesley Grey

Most people's kind of like introduction to climate talk is the icecaps are melting, the rainforests are being destroyed, everything's on fire and we're all going to die. Whereas when you start with there is a community garden that needs people to help plant peas, it's far more manageable.

Dr Edgar Caballero Aspe

Banksia Gardens Community Services is right here in Broadmeadows, one of the most disadvantaged postcodes in Victoria. It's a neighbourhood house. In that public housing estate, it's very poorly designed. When it's hot outside, it's going to be hot inside, so we face very challenging behaviours. That's why CARYA, Climate Adaptation Requires Youth Action, are here, knowing that there is a problem, transforming that into movement and action.

Taryn D'Costa

The outer northern suburbs don't have as much access to get involved in climate action as some younger people that live in the inner city areas. So that was the idea around CARYA, to try and help young people out here to get involved. It's a 10 week training program and every week we cover a different topic, so we cover things like biodiversity, agriculture and food security. We talk about energy. Interwoven through a lot of what we talk about in CARYA is the social issues connected, justice for our First Nations communities, inequality and how our vulnerable people in our communities are affected the most.

Wesley Grey

As part of CARYA we did an outing to the Jacana Wetlands to install some bee hotels, inviting native pollinators to come into an area and stay in an area. But also they serve as a visual sign that people care about local issues and supporting the local environment.

Hansani Abedheera Liyan Patabendige

We went to Bundoora and we were looking at the seed banks and like how they actually are saving the native plants that are sort of slowly dying. So we are increasing those plants rather than flowers that's not from Australia.

Taryn D'Costa

We talk a lot about CARYA. Partnerships are really important to amplify the work that we're doing.

Wesley Grey

You don't really have time to be sad when you're working with people who are really cool. Some of the people that we've been able to talk to through CARYA, like Dave Wandin and Dr Susie Burke, it's like, oh no, there's people doing amazing work, and we're a part of that narrative.

Hansani Abedheera Liyan Patabendige

The energy in CARYA is amazing, they're really supportive. The main project is to advocate more people and get the local community involved.

Taryn D'Costa

Listening to what community members want, I think is a really important thing. It's just about bringing people together and facilitating what they want to do.

Dr Edgar Caballero Aspe

The recommendation would be to be able to create spaces that are safe, that allows for emotional connections, for reflections, an actual network of support.

Wesley Grey

Taking action has a hundred per cent helped me with my climate anxiety. My message would be, get involved in something local and attack these issues head-on.

Dr Edgar Caballero Aspe

It's an invitation to the space, to the program and the many projects that Banksia has. To keep developing our best abilities to be ready. I see in the future also a network of CARYA's around Australia or around the world.

Hansani Abedheera Liyan Patabendige

Going through the program, I felt like I really can do something, even making my own compost at home. And I want to have my own garden bed. On the weekend, if I had time, that's what I'd do. It get me excited to get out of my nervousness and just put myself out there. I'm not just doing that for myself, but for everyone else as well.

Banksia Gardens Community Services (BGSC), a Neighbourhood House on Wurundjeri Country in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, supports young people to act on climate change through the CARYA (Climate Adaptation Requires Youth Action) program. BGCS staff and participants in the CARYA program discuss the importance of bringing young community members who share a serious concern about climate change to have conversations, share knowledge and act locally to respond to climate change.

CARYA is pronounced “carrier” and is named after the genus of Hickory trees. The vision for the CARYA program grew from BGCS’s work with the neighbouring housing estate and the significant impact that extreme heat events had on the health, safety and wellbeing of residents and the neighbouring community.

The program engages a diverse cross-section of young people (18-29 year olds) to discuss the challenges of climate change and supports youth-led initiatives and leadership on resilience and preparedness. Youth-focused climate action movements are often based closer to inner-city areas. CARYA provided young people living in the outer northern suburbs of the Melbourne metropolitan area with the unique opportunity to access and participate in climate action in their community.

Project Lead Organisation: Banksia Gardens Community Services (BGCS), a Neighbourhood House.

Project Partners: Hume City Council and Conservation Volunteers Australia

Project location and DELWP Region: Broadmeadows, Melbourne (Port Phillip Region)

Victorian Government funding program: Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) Grants program

Grant funding received: $75,000

Funds from project lead and partner organisations: $46,440

Overall project cost: $121,440

Is this grant project part of a larger piece of adaptation work? After developing and implementing the CARYA training program as part of their 3CA Grant-funded project, Banksia Gardens Community Services has successfully received further funding from the Lord Mayors' Charitable Foundation to continue the program.

More information:

Visit the CARYA webpage


How does a new green space help in the heat? Watch this video to find out.

Tahlia Sexton

I like bringing the kids here, because it's a safe spot in the middle of town. It's good to have spaces that have grass and trees and plants because it sort of creates that bit of shade that you can sit under and they can run around and don't have to worry too much.

Phil King

Being in the Wimmera Mallee area, it's not unusual to get into the 40 degrees. One of the things with climate change is we just really wanted to have somewhere that people could come and basically get out of that heat, have a bit of a respite.

The Greenlink project that we've got at Dimboola is a 63 kilometre discovery trail that follows the banks of the Wimmera River to Jeparit through to Lake Hindmarsh. Where the visitor node is, we've effectively turned an asphalt car park into a really nice, community, open green space. Natural shade is a lot better than artificial shade.

That's one of the reasons why we've selected about 1700 trees and plants and shrubs. One of the biggest challenges that we faced was, generally, a lot of people just don't like change and they thought that the removal of the asphalt car park was going to be detrimental to the business district. And I think people just didn't understand what the big picture was. But if you could explain to them how it was all going to work, what it was going to look like, that tried to appease a lot of people. One of the other things that's occurred is that people themselves are actually thinking about what else can be done.

The funding that we received through the Climate Adaptation program, enabled us to put in subterranean irrigation systems, saving you a lot of water. We've got a series of rainwater tanks, it enables us to put in solar lighting. All of those climate change adaptations we think benefits the community. Now that it's all constructed, we tend to get more positive comments.

Tahlia Sexton

It's good for the shops economically because they're getting more customers. And the more customers means if they spread the word, more tourists stop.

Phil King

Partnerships are really important for understanding what climate change is, funding mitigation. So I think that you've got to have links with different organisations, state government, federal government, councils, the local historical society and Barengi Gadjin Land Council.

Raylene Werner

We already have a good link with Dimboola. So it's just another link between the two towns. Everybody's behind the project. They'll come down here on a hot day, where there's green grass and the water, and it just makes you feel so much cooler.

Phil King

The greatest benefit so far is having a nice, open community space in the middle of town where people can congregate. That social connectedness.

Some elderly ladies come down here in the library, have a bit of a chat, wander around the garden, have a look and see how all the plants are growing. And there's also some lady from Warracknabeal. She always comes and has a coffee and something to eat, a walk around the gardens and off she goes to Horsham.

All of those things really improve the community wellbeing, where they've got a safe environment.

Tahlia Sexton

This Greenlink project is going to be a good meeting space for members of the community, where they can all come together and sit and have a chat. And yeah, it's just good all around for the towns.

Sustainable Dairy Communities for North East Victoria

Dairy farming communities in the alpine valleys of north east Victoria are taking the lead in preparing for a changing climate. Watch now to find out how.

Edith Peters

When the temperature gets up above 30, cows aren't able to get the heat out. It just keeps building up as a load in their body and these animals are having to put more energy just into staying alive as opposed to producing milk.

Scott McKillop

We're getting much more greater frequency of the extreme weather events, so we have to be really cognisant of that, from both a human perspective as well as an animal perspective. As dairy farmers, we're used to adapting to the climate on a daily basis. It's about not just looking at the short term, because the decisions we make and investments really have to have an attitude towards what's the world going to look like.

Patten Bridge

The climate adaptation project for North East Victoria was around building the shared understanding of the predicted impacts of climate change and understand how farmers were interpreting that and what was most important for them. We wanted to link that in with all the other work that's happening around the broader society and climate change adaptation and then respond with sensible projects, which we could work on for the next five to ten years. So we organised four workshops.

Patrick Glass

Farmers got an opportunity to have an informed conversation with their fellow farmers. They'd worked out their priorities on their farms and then we asked, what are your knowledge gaps? What questions do you need us to start answering now, so you can implement them on your farm in 2045, so you're ready for 2050?

Edith Peters

I was pretty curious about sheds, because housing the cows is something that's not traditionally done in the North East Victoria, but it's done a lot more commonly in Finley and places further west of here.

Scott McKillop

The effects of heat stress on cows is something the dairy industry has been working on for a few years. We actually can get alerts on our phone saying, well, you're coming up to a period of extreme heat stress, here are the things you might need to think about putting in place. We make sure we keep them close to the dairy on the hot days we might milk later in the afternoon, so that they're spending more time under shade. One other thing that we've done too is we've actually installed collars on the cows, which measures their activity on a daily basis.

Patten Bridge

There's five themes that the farmers thought were the most important: The changing nature of the seasonal rainfall patterns. The second really important thing is we know it's getting hotter. The third area is around water and the amount of it that's available. The fourth area was the increasing number of severe weather events and the fifth was how farmers are coping with change from a health and particularly a mental health point of view. Whilst farmers can take responsibility for a range of adaptations, they need support from a broader cohort, and so let's get strategic and work collaboratively. That can be a very good model for all of agriculture in Australia.

Patrick Glass

Take the time to listen to the people at the coal face. They know what they don't know, or they don't know what they don't know, but you can't assume, go and ask them.

Scott McKillop

What I'm aiming to get out of the program is to be a voice, to be part of the process, because if we're having decisions made top down and we're saying, well, it's not really relevant to what we're doing on farm, people won't engage. So hopefully by being involved, other farmers gain from the experiences that we've shared through the whole process and the outcomes that we've got.

The greatest outcome from the program so far has been noticed, noticed by Dairy Australia, noticed by the Australian Dairy Foundation for our investment we have both physically and mentally on a financial basis in our businesses. And hopefully even politicians will be taking notice what we're doing. That we as farmers care about our future we care about our environment. That's what it's all about.

Alpine valley dairy farming community members came together at workshops to discuss the predicted impacts of climate change in north east Victoria, how these impacts will affect the dairy industry and how dairy communities in this part of Victoria can respond to ensure their long-term sustainability. Key challenges and opportunities were then identified by key industry and regional stakeholders.

These challenges and opportunities include changing rainfall patterns, increasing the number of hot days and hot stretches, access to water, increasing extreme weather events, personal and community health and resilience. To address these challenges and opportunities, 10 projects were developed as a priority for the dairy industry in north east Victoria to implement over the next ten years.

Project Lead Organisation: AgBiz Assist, a social enterprise that supports rural and regional businesses, farmers and communities.

Project Partners: Alpine Valleys Dairy Inc, North East Catchment Management Authority, Dairy Australia, Murray Dairy, Towong/Alpine/Indigo/Rural City of Wangaratta Shires, dairy farmers of North East Victoria

Project location and DELWP Region: Alpine Valleys of North East Victoria (Hume Region)

Victorian Government funding program: Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) Grants program

Grant funding received: $52,430

Funds from project lead and partner organisations: $18,127 (in-kind support)

Overall project cost: $70,557

Is this grant project part of a larger piece of adaptation work? The project grew out of climate change adaptation work in northeast Victoria that the North East Catchment Management Authority was leading. The project partners have identified ten projects to pursue in the future. Alpine Valleys Dairies Inc. will help drive this future work.

More information

More information about the project, including the report on opportunities and challenges, and a list of the 10 suggested future projects can be found on North East Catchment Management Authority’s website: Climate Futures - Opportunities and Challenges

Building Adaptive Capacity in the Gippsland Region: Wetland Restoration Citizen Science Program

What do science and salt marshes have in common? They’re both helping Gippsland communities act on climate change. Find out how in this video.

Harry and Oliver

We're out at Meerlieu, doing core samples from the salt marshes, dissecting the different layers of soil, to work out if salt marshes hold carbon dioxide. We're just trying to get rid of greenhouse gases into the soil.

Dr Maria Palacios

The community here in Gippsland are going to experience a lot of the effects of climate change, we'd get things like increased temperature, extreme weather events and droughts are going to be heavier and stronger. We are also going to get a lot of tidal inundation and strong storms. So we need to have a lot of protection in terms of our coastline. And that's why it is very important to invest in coastal wetlands.

The Gippsland Wetland Restoration Citizen Science program aims to engage and educate community into climate change and wetland knowledge, to help them understand that coastal wetlands are really important for climate change mitigation. We take them out into the field and we transform them into citizen scientists. So we get them to collect data that is going to be used to create management plans for the region.

Dr Melissa Wartman

Blue Carbon ecosystems can help mitigate and adapt to climate change. They are coastal wetlands, there's three main vegetation communities that make them up which is mangrove, salt marsh and seagrass meadows. Even though they occupy less than 1% of the land they account for 50% of the ocean carbon sequestration. They can also protect our shorelines because vegetation that grows there is able to secure the sediment with their roots and not only does that prevent erosion, but they trap soil, so they're able to maintain and build up with sea level rise. Currently, a lot of the community see the salt marsh as a bad thing. People think them as muddy, stinky, smelly and are unaware of all the benefit, but we're here saying no, it's actually great, it's an environmental asset that you have.

Anthony Simpson

If the salt keeps on encroaching into pasture and it's not usable for livestock grazing, there's an income that you can derive from carbon and you can plant out for trees and that's going to be a win for us and the environment.

Dr Maria Palacios

It's very important for local communities to be the ones leading the way in any actions that we take because they're the ones that really know what they value the most and what actions they're able to keep up through time.


Everyone who's come here today works with different landholders and people who manage land. So what's really cool is everyone can take that back and hopefully get more people restoring wetlands and understanding the opportunities for contributing to climate adaptation.

Dr Melissa Wartman

It's always learning and taking information in and adapting to the new situation and then developing a robust plan to how we restore that site. All right, we need to start lowering emissions, so we need to start seeing actual on-ground restoration happening and we've been doing it piece by piece, but now we need a large collective action and anyone's welcome, there's no requirements to come out into the wetland. We teach all the skills that you need and hopefully you take those away and pass them along to other people.

Grattan Mullett

It's about our future generation, having an appreciation of the legacy that we'll leave in terms of seeing a beautiful wetland system how it's been degraded but how we can actually restore it. So it gives them satisfaction that they can see that we can change things if we work together.

Caitlin Pilkington

I've definitely learned more about how tests are done in the field, like taking cores up, measure how much sediment goes over the soil and you can really see how that's affecting the environment around you and your local ecosystem. So citizen science really helps people get more in touch.

Harry and Oliver

We love being citizen scientists for climate adaptation!

Scientists from Deakin University are working with community members on Gunaikurnai Country in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria to collect important data that will be used to improve the health of the region’s wetlands. By becoming “citizen scientists” local Gippsland community members are being empowered by taking action, learning about the importance of climate change adaptation and how they can be more prepared for the impacts of a changing climate.

The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation have been working closely with Deakin University on this project to help raise awareness of the importance of the wetlands to the cultural heritage of the Gunaikurnai people.

This project highlights that wetland restoration plays a critical role when it comes to responding to climate change. It has both climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation outcomes. As a “blue carbon ecosystem” wetlands capture atmospheric carbon and lock it in the sediment, acting as one of the most effective carbon sinks on earth. This is an example of climate change mitigation, which is an action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere, reducing the severity of climate change.

Wetlands also help protect communities and the environment from climate change impacts by reducing the intensity of waves and storm surges, shielding the coastline from flooding, property damage and loss of life. The roots of wetland plants also stabilise shorelines and reduce erosion. Therefore, wetland restoration is an important climate change adaptation action as humans are preparing for and managing the impacts of climate change.

To effectively respond to the challenge of climate change, humans need to take actions that both mitigate and adapt - just as this project is doing.

Project Lead Organisation: Deakin University

Project Partners: Greening Australia, Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation

Project location and DELWP Region: Gippsland Lakes (Gippsland Region)

Victorian Government funding program: Community Climate Change Adaptation (3CA) Grants program

Grant funding received: $75,000

Funds from project lead and partner organisations: $172,400 (cash and in-kind support)

Overall project cost: $247,400

Is this grant project part of a larger piece of work? Yes. Deakin University’s 3CA Grant-funded project stems from larger bodies of work led by the university’s Blue Carbon lab.

More information

Visit the web pages for the Victorian Coastal Wetland Restoration program and The Blue Carbon Lab Citizen Science initiative.

Page last updated: 31/10/22