Eastern Australian Farmers Managing and Thinking Differently: Innovative Adaptation Cycles

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The uncertainty of climate change is a significant challenge prompting Australian farmers to create different thinking and different management systems that ensure sustained farm business viability and continuity, particularly in extreme environments. The purpose of this study was to explore the conditions and adaptive processes for managing farm resilience and cyclic adaptation pathways, in response to climate change. A positive deviance sample of farmers was interviewed, and data was collected from a cohort of twenty-two climate change innovators across Eastern Australia. Grounded theory analysis of data identified three processes and two transactional maps of climate change adaptation, in this under studied farmer cohort. The development of the transactional maps found the resilience and preparedness processes as adaptive learning responses to the stressors of climate change. The processes of managing the business and resources were identified as markers of preparedness and resilience that ensured business viability and continuity. Farmers prepared for climate change through transforming make-over processes as an adaptive learning response to climate challenges. Mapping the cycle of adaptation identified the processes of socio-cognitive agency, learning from feedback and consequences, and contextual variables as critical elements of adaptation. The intervening socio-ecological processes of intelligence gathering and influencing, and socio-cognitive precursors, were found to regulate the adaptation cycle. The cycle was found to have both incremental and transformative transmission processes, and intervening processes of climate and contextual variables. The changing patterns and extremes of climate change were found to impact the growing season, and its potential, as unique variables that demand farm adaptation. Ultimately, this study identified potential points of influence for leveraging preparedness behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-66
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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