National Farmers' Federation

Weather break: farmers may finally get reliable forecasts

TODAY the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) applauded the efforts of researchers at the University of NSW who claim to have found correlating links between the Indian Ocean dipole and the weather and rainfall patterns experienced in Australia.
“These findings, if verified and supported through scientific review, could be the missing piece in the puzzle for Australia’s farmers and their on-farm decision-making,” NFF President David Crombie said. “Farmers need reliable weather forecasts to decide what to farm, when to farm it and how to farm it.
“A seven-month early warning system, which today’s research findings may herald, would be vitally important to farmers in whether to plant particular crops, reduce or increase livestock numbers, or prune or plant fruit and vegetables.
“Recently the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO authored a report showing that climate change will increase the volatility of extreme climatic events across Australia. Australia is already one of the most variable climates on Earth and to hear it was going to be more variable sent shockwaves through governments and farming communities.
“The NFF has championed the need to move drought policy to take up new management and preparedness measures, while providing surety through disaster relief, with the Australian Government’s drought review reflecting the likelihood that droughts will be more frequent than the historical one in 20-to-25-year event.
“As part of managing future drought, the NFF also called for the Bureau of Meteorology to receive a significant investment to make it a world leader in climate predictability and expand the computer models it relies on for seasonal and inter-seasonal forecasting.
“We needed to move away from historical comparisons of rainfall, to focus on accurate and reliable information on future weather patterns and events. Today’s research findings may go a long way to helping solve the puzzle of world weather systems.
“It is now crucial to invest in monitoring equipment in both the Indian Ocean dipole and its interrelationship with existing knowledge on the El Nina and El Nino effects. This needs to be plugged into sophisticated and state-of-the-art computer predictive modelling that Australians –farmers and everyone else – can have confidence in.
“Such a system would clearly have benefits for agriculture production and regional communities, which is a key driver to Australia’s economic prosperity, however, it would also render vital assistance to water catchment authorities and suppliers who service the daily needs of metropolitan Australia.”

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