A Status Quo Review of Climate Change and the Agricultural Sector of the Western Cape Province: Brief for the Livestock Farming: Central Karoo
Publication: Western Cape Government
As a result of global climatic changes, the Western Cape faces a warmer future. This poses serious threats to agricultural commodities in the province, including sheep, goats and beef cattle. Changes in annual rainfall as well as changes to the spatial distribution, seasonal cycles and extremes in rainfall are also likely, even if the extent and direction of these changes are still uncertain. The SmartAgri project is focusing on the planning and preparation needed in the agricultural sector in order to deal with this threat over the next 10–40 years. Agricultural production is closely linked to climate and weather. These linkages are sometimes straightforward, for example seasonal total rainfall influencing rangeland productivity. More commonly they involve far more specific influences such as dry spell duration during spring or early summer. Higher temperatures are often tolerated as long as rainfall is sufficient.
However, temperature sensitivities can be much more complex, for example the reduction in animal fertility and milk production brought about by a heat wave. Thus, a discussion of the impacts of climate change on agricultural production requires focused attention to specific threats to specific animals and at specific times in the seasonal cycle. In addition, local conditions such as production potential and microclimate influence the extent of the threat.