Play the climate change game at Fieldays

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Farmers visiting NIWA’s Fieldays stand at Mystery Creek next week have the opportunity to see into their future by playing a game that dices with climate change.

The aim is to encourage farmers to plan for climate change and maximise their abilities and options in order to adapt and thrive as significant changes in weather patterns begin to take place.

The large board game has been developed by NIWA social scientists and has players deciding how they will face the challenge of dry periods or drought in the 2020s on a Waikato or Bay of Plenty dairy farm and then again 30 years later in the 2050s.

People are asked to play their way through potential dry conditions which, depending on a throw of the dice, could develop into drought or severe drought. They must then make decisions on how to manage their farm according to the conditions.

Players then choose from several typical responses – accessing water, buying food, selling stock, planting drought-resistant crops – and see how their farm responds to their choice. They can then repeat the process in the 2050s under what will then be the prevailing climate – more frequent, severe, or persistent droughts and increased restrictions on some farming options, for example.

The game is intended to highlight the challenges and opportunities climate change is bringing. NIWA also offers farmers the option of exploring how climate change will affect their properties via a computerised visualisation tool.  They can also test the newly developed interactive Climate Change Toolkit for Farmers which enables people to plan for change in more detail.

NIWA chief scientist climate Dr Andrew Tait says understanding that significant change is coming it is imperative to plan how to adapt and thrive.

“It is important that people understand how much climate change is likely to affect New Zealand so they can make informed decisions based on good science.”

This year, NIWA and its sister Crown Research Institutes (CRI) AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua and Scion have a combined stand in the main pavilion looking at science solutions for our changing world. Each CRI will be highlighting their climate change research projects and what they mean for the agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, NIWA forecasters say the outlook for Fieldays is unsettled weather with rain, possibly heavy, leading up to the opening day on Wednesday. The best chance for dry weather is likely to be Thursday and Friday.