Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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11.2.1 Adaptation Technologies

Adaptations - such as changes in crops and crop varieties, improved water management and irrigation systems, and changes in planting schedules and tillage practices - will be important in limiting negative effects and taking advantage of beneficial changes in climate. The extent of adaptation depends on the affordability of such measures, particularly in developing countries: access to know-how and technology, the rate of climate change and biophysical constraints such as water availability, soil characteristics and crop genetics. (SPM, SAR of IPCC WG II, 1996)

Many adaptation opportunities suitable for climate change have already been applied by farmers. Table11.1 provides a list of currently available adaptation opportunities that can be applied at the farm or farmer community level. Most available options take advantage of the general flexibility of agricultural systems related with the short management cycles involved. It is likely that autonomous adjustment by farmers will continue to be important as climate changes, provided that farmers have access to the right information and tools. However, some agricultural systems are less flexible, for example because they are constrained by soil quality or water availability, or because they face economic, technological, institutional or cultural barriers. In such cases, autonomous adjustments may not be implemented in time because of lack of awareness (of both problems and solutions), and anticipatory planned adaptation would be required to provide the right conditions (i.e., information and tools) to farmers for autonomous adjustment (Klein and Tol, 1997).

Anticipatory strategies for adaptation to climate change and climate variability aim to increase flexibility so as to allow the type of adjustments shown in Table 11.1. For example, increasing the variety of crops may require the introduction of new knowledge and machinery to a farming community. However, as climate changes, the technologies listed in Table 11.1 may not be sufficient, and the need may arise for the development of new technologies to allow farmers to cope better with anticipated climate-change impacts, and to reduce the costs of adaptation (Klein and Tol, 1997).

Table 11.1 Examples of adaptation opportunities to climate-change impacts on agricultural systems (Smit, 1993).
Response strategy Adaptation options
Use different crops or varieties to match changing water supply and temperature conditions
  • Conduct research to develop new crop varieties
  • Improve distribution networks
Change land topography to reduce runoff, improve water uptake and reduce wind erosion
  • Subdivide large fields
  • Grass waterways
  • Land leveling
  • Waterway-leveled pans
  • Bench terracing
  • Tied ridges
  • Deep plowing
  • Roughen land surface
  • Use windbreaks
Introduce systems to improve water use and availability and control soil erosion
  • Low-cost pumps and water supplies
  • Dormant season irrigation
  • Line canals or install pipes
  • Use brackish water where possible
  • Concentrate irrigation water during peak-growth period
  • Level fields, recycle tailwater, irrigate alternate furrows
  • Drip-irrigation systems
  • Diversions
Change farming practices to conserve soil moisture and
nutrients, reduce runoff and control soil erosion
  • Conventional bare fallow
  • Stubble/straw mulching
  • Minimum tillage
  • Crop rotation
  • Contour cropping to slope
  • Avoid monocropping -
  • Chisel up soil clods
  • Use lower planting densities
Change timing of farm operations to better fit new climatic conditions
  • Advance sowing dates to offset moisture stress during warm period

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