A new super race may have been born this winter with the awards presented to the Masters of the Climate — landholders judged clever enough to make sense of Australia's variable climate.
The awards were made following a Masters of the Climate national competition, an initiative of the Climate Variability in Agriculture R&D Program (CVAP). The program is administered by the Land and Water Research and Development Corporation (LWRRDC), and supported by growers through the GRDC. It recognises innovative farmers and land managers who use climate information to work with climate variability.
The ultimate aim is to alert land managers to the range of climate information tools and to develop land management systems better adapted to Australia's variable climate. The project also seeks to identify clever or little-known innovations which could be improved with research and development for wider adoption.
Techniques used by the recently announced State and Territory award winners ranged from computer modelling and historical records to indigenous Aboriginal knowledge. The purposes for which they were used were equally diverse — from growing passionfruit in Tasmania to selling cattle, and from Aboriginal land management to making a case to the local bank manager.
An agricultural consultant will visit each of the 30 best entries to produce a case study of their climate management techniques. CVAP proposes to publish the case studies as a manual.
The innovative winners
Jeff Hoffman farms at Lockhart and began serious climate analysis in 1986. He used 112 years of rainfall records and 30 years of farming experience in his winning entry.
Ian McEwan farms 1,050 hectares at Donald. He used US expertise and Japanese satellite images to make land management decisions.
Dick Shaw grows passionfruit, tamarillo and avocado 'out of climate' by using regional, Australian, NZ, African and UK temperature data.
Tony Boyd of Lake Eyre used sea surface temperatures of the Indian and Pacific Oceans to plan for droughts, floods and cattle sales.
Erland Happ of Dunsborough differentiated grape flavours by incorporating a 'heat load' technique into land management.
Colin Lane of Nhulunbuy used indigenous information and local records to improve tree planting.
Mervyn Mayes farms at Wandoan. He stabilised variables in his income by using information from the Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, weather fax and the Internet.
Contact: Mr Gavin Atkins 02 9956 7755
CVAP now produces a newsletter CLIMAG which can be obtained by contacting Capital Public Affairs Consultants 02 6248 9344, email firstname.lastname@example.org