Future Directions

In spite of recent improvements, adoption of climate variability management tools such as seasonal forecasting is low among the farming community. Farmers have expressed negativity about the reliability of the tools and their benefits.

It could be argued that many farmers, particularly those in large irrigated enterprises, have already reduced the risk associated with timely access to water by building large on-farm water storages and installing more efficient water reticulation systems—that is, they have invested (at a significant cost) out of the uncertainty for which seasonal forecasting tools are trying to compensate. So, it would seem that the need to consider the use of technology such as seasonal forecasting is directly related to degree of exposure and risk management behavior.

A consequence of the current water reforms—as timely access to instream water is no longer guaranteed and on-farm water storage is increasingly regulated—is an increase in risk exposure. This may force users to invest in tools that provide marginal gains. To identify where these marginal gains are, and the different levels of benefit that are possible, forecasting tools need to be tailored to a range of niche markets whose needs, decision-making behaviors, and current resistance must be clearly articulated. These niche markets need to be identified. This case study gives some strong leads—for example, irrigation versus dryland and high-equity versus mortgage participants. Significant benefit from research and development in climate risk management can only be realized if it produces tools that match users' needs and expectations and that can be incorporated into their decision-making and risk assessment processes.

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