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Big bucks to bolster weather forecast accuracy

What does a farmer do in their spare time? Check the weather forecast, then check it again at five minute intervals - just to be sure.

Knowing what the weather has in store is key to almost every operation on-farm – whether it’s deciding when to put the crop in or when to get it off; when to muster for shearing and or when to rug the sheep.

Knowing only too well the importance of weather to farmers, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Resource Minister Barnaby Joyce last week announced $6.2 million for a new programme to better predict extreme weather events such as drought and frost.

The program will see Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) collaborate with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) with 13 other partners across the dairy, beef, sheep, grains, sugar and wine industries to:

  • Identify what forecasting information on extreme events is needed for decision-making.
  • Develop new forecasts of extreme weather events using the BoM’s world-class seasonal prediction system, and
  • Develop industry relevant tools for producers to help them use seasonal forecasts of extreme climate events.

This is ongoing work through to 2018–19 and will significantly improve the signal, resolution, accuracy and frequency of future seasonal forecasts
The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

Speaking at the announcement of the funding at BoM headquarters in Melbourne Minister Joyce said the project complemented work by the BoM to develop a new seasonal forecasting system, funded under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

“This is ongoing work through to 2018–19 and will significantly improve the signal, resolution, accuracy and frequency of future seasonal forecasts.”

Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie, also at the announcement, said Australian farmers were continually increasing productivity in the face of extreme weather conditions and that this project would be a practical step towards further limiting the effect that extreme climate events have on profits at the farmgate.

“Australian farmers operate in one of the most variable climates in the world and giving them the tools they need to change their management practices and better prepare for extreme events is vitally important to increasing returns at the farmgate,” Senator McKenzie said.

 “Ensuring our farmers have the best possible tools to manage increasing climate variability and the possibility of more frequent extreme weather events will not only benefit Victoria’s farmers, but also our nation’s food security.”

The funding is part of the Government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit programme.

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