[ASC-media] Farmers and scientists tackle climate variability
jenni at econnect.com.au
Tue Mar 28 06:48:53 EST 2006
- Need for better seasonal forecasting tools for farmers and resource
Managing Climate Variability Forum in Adelaide this week: Embargoed until
Wednesday 29 March 9.30am
Australian farmers and other managers of land and water resources already
experience one of the most variable climates on earth.
The frequency of drought and the prospects of climate change mean that more
accurate and timely seasonal forecasting and risk management tools are more
important than ever.
These issues are being discussed by scientists, farmers and resource
managers at the Managing Climate Variability (MCV) forum in Adelaide this
week, 29-30 March.
Farmers are already managing risk but recognise the need to do this even
better, according to Ms Melissa Rebbeck, senior research officer with the
South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI).
"Farmers see a need to build on their already flexible management styles to
cater for swings in climate extremes to maximise profits in good years and
minimise losses in the bad," she says.
"Lower rainfall areas make 80 percent of their profits from the best three
year in 10. Using forecasting tools to take advantage of good years can add
an extra $200,000 to farm incomes in those years, with potential to save
similar amounts in bad years."
Farmers are finding tools that predict seasonal conditions are essential to
managing risk, says Harm van Rees, a consultant with the Birchip Cropping
Group operating in the Wimmera-Mallee region of Victoria and South
"In the past, farmers found it hard to tell what the yield potential was of
their crops based on the soil fertility and moisture levels in their
paddocks," he says. "But today computer tools like Yield Prophet use
historical rainfall data and paddock specific information to work these
"Last July, it showed we'd really struggle to produce crops and our farmers
reduced their fertiliser use and saved money that other farmers lost when
their crops failed."
A key focus for ongoing research is whether global warming will increase
Australia's climate variability according to Queensland Department of
Primary Industries researcher, Dr Holger Meinke.
"What was considered extreme in our weather yesterday or even today could
become common-place tomorrow," he says. "For farmers, this means two things:
if they want to remain profitable, they need to be aware of the risk factors
and they need to be able to assess their spot on the map and how this fits
in with global change."
"We know that our climate is changing and the best way to prepare for it is
by managing existing climate variability better. A changing climate has
different implications depending on location, exposure to risk and the
adaptive capacity of farmers and sectors.
"MCV has helped to develop many of the tools needed for better climate risk
The Managing Climate Variability Program is developing more accurate and
timely seasonal forecasting tools. The Program will be investing in a new
round of research in 2007.
Media are invited to attend a media conference with Ms Rebbeck, Mr van Rees
and Dr Meinke at 9.30am on Wednesday 29 March at the SARDI Aquatic Sciences
Centre, 2 Hamra Ave, West Beach, Adelaide.
Media assistance: For a full copy of the program, media kit, please contact:
Jenni Metcalfe: jenni at econnect.com.au, 0408 551 866
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101
Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au
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