[ASC-media] Farmers beat the dry times

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Sun Mar 1 05:44:49 CET 2009

Embargoed until Wednesday March 4 2009, 11am

Farmers in many cropping regions of Australia are recognising the importance
of forecasting to improve decision-making for farming in the dry.

And if these farmers can survive the droughts experienced in the past decade
using forecasting as one of a suite of tools that improve the management of
climate variability, there's hope for the future.

These are the conclusions being presented today at the ABARE Outlook
conference in Canberra in the Farming in the Dry session, sponsored by Land
& Water Australia. 

Speakers in the session at 11.30am include farmer, Ian McClelland and South
Australian Research and Development Institute scientist, Dr Peter Hayman.
Both have been involved with the Managing Climate Variability program over
the past decade.

Managing Climate Variability is investing heavily in improving monthly,
seasonal, annual and longer term forecasts based on a better understanding
of what drives our climate. 

Both Dr Hayman and Mr McClelland believe farmers' resilience and
adaptability to climate variability and change depends on R&D that will help
farmers to better make decisions and manage their risks. 

"Providing farmers with more accurate and timely forecasts will be
particularly important for helping farmers to be more flexible in their
approach to farming," says Dr Hayman.  

"Farmers need the ability to better identify and analyse likely climate
risks that will impact on their costs and profits."

"Our research success will mean the agricultural sector can make better
decisions on dryland production mixes and practices by linking their on-farm
decisions to risk analysis and predictions for key attributes such as
plant-available water, frost frequency, heat events and forage
availability," says Colin Creighton, coordinator of Managing Climate

"We've experienced a sustained dry period over the last 12 years with our
growing season rainfall at 28 per cent below average," says Ian McClelland,
also Chairman of the Birchip Cropping Group in north western Victoria. 

"But many of our farmers have been able to respond to this unrelenting dry
period by implementing no till cropping, changing their enterprises from
grain crops to hay production, and by using conservation farming

Dr Hayman says that while climate change projections for rainfall are less
confident than they are for temperature, there is a worrying consistency
amongst the models for drying in southern regions. 

"Although at times it feels like we will never get a good season again, the
most likely future is to expect an increased ratio of poor seasons to good
seasons. We need to have farming systems that can cope with runs of dry
seasons and respond to the less frequent, but very important good seasons
and do this in an environment of higher input costs." 

Managing Climate Variability is a collaborative research and development
program between the Grains, Rural Industries and Sugar Research and
Development Corporations, the Australian Government Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dairy Australia, Meat & Livestock
Australia and Land & Water Australia.

For interview:

Ian McClelland, phone: 0428 772 217      awmcclelland at bigpond.com

Dr Peter Hayman, phone: 08 83039424, 0401 996 448
<mailto:hayman.peter at saugov.sa.gov.au> hayman.peter at saugov.sa.gov.au

Colin Creighton, phone: 0418 225 894   colinmwnrm at bigpond.com

Further information:

Presentation abstract from Ian McClelland:

Report by Peter Hayman et al:
http://www.sardi.sa.gov.au/climate/publications (report under recent project

Managing Climate Variability R&D Strategy:

For media assistance:

Jenni Metcalfe, phone 0408 551 866       jenni at econnect.com.au



Jenni Metcalfe


Econnect Communication

PO Box 734

South Brisbane Q 4101

Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866

jenni at econnect.com.au



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