WithTheGrain: Climate investment to shed light on forecast modelling

Author: | Date: 03 Jun 2018

Successful Victorian climate and forecast information service The Fast Break is being rolled out to South Australia and Tasmania, connecting farmers with the latest in climate, rainfall and oceanic activity predictions and observations.

The GRDC has invested to expand The Fast Break across the southern region in partnership with Agriculture Victoria, recognising the key challenge climate risk poses for farmers.

The seasonal outlook products on offer with the project, Using seasonal forecast information and tools to manage risk and increase profitability in the southern region, include:

  • The Fast Break monthly email newsletter editions for South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria to be released monthly with updates on seasonal conditions, key climate drivers and the combined seasonal outlook from various global forecast models.
  • The Very Fast Break three-minute monthly videos summarising seasonal conditions, key climate drivers and outlooks for South Australia and Victoria.
  • Using seasonal forecasts in a GRDC South webinar series coaching participants on seasonal risk, model projections for climate drivers and soil moisture conditions to be available to participate in online either live or by viewing the recorded presentation.

Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey says the free subscription The Fast Break newsletters and The Very Fast Break videos would save growers hours of research and simplify potentially conflicting information put out by a range of climate models.

“We’re able to explain what the predictions are saying and discuss for growers where there is consensus to give growers more confidence into what might happen for the season ahead or if they need to exercise some risk management strategies,” he says

“Some years the models jump on a prediction quite early and they’re right, while sometimes they’re quite late making a consensus and it’s always an issue that model predictions around autumn are the most problematic.

“Of course this is just when every cropper wants information about what the season is like before they plant but at least with this project we’re able to arm them with as much information as possible to make the best decision for their operation.”

 

Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey is bringing the latest in climate and forecast information to South Australian and Tasmanian farmers, building on the successful The Fast Break initiative that has been running in Victoria for over a decade.

Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey is bringing the latest in climate and forecast information to South Australian and Tasmanian farmers, building on the successful The Fast Break initiative that has been running in Victoria for over a decade.

Mr Grey says grain growers can utilise The Fast Break and The Very Fast Break services mid-season to make late nitrogen decisions and guidance on harvest rain events.

“When we’ve got a prediction in July for the August, September and October period and people are considering top-dressing nitrogen, predictions at that time really can help with that sort of decision making,” he says.

“Of course you wouldn’t make this decision in isolation, you’d need to be thinking about how much nitrogen is in the paddocks already, sowing dates and stored soil moisture rather than just doing something because a forecast said it.

“In some years it could give greater confidence on the amount of forward selling to do mid-season.

“It can give you some guidance as to what’s likely to happen during harvest as well, to know if it might be wetter and what’s the potential urgency to get the crop off as quick as possible.

“For people who are making export oaten hay or hay in general, these forecasts give you some sort of guidance to spring and whether this is likely to be a good hay making year or not.”

Mr Grey says the newsletters and videos also allow for reflection on weather events, giving farmers an insight into what had been happening in their area and why.

In addition to the newsletters and videos, the project will include a series of lunchtime webinars focusing on seasonal risk, model projections for climate drivers and soil moisture conditions for producers across the southern region. The webinars are online and allow participants to ask questions. They will also be recorded to allow people to watch at any time.

Looking towards winter 2018, Mr Grey will update current climatic and soil moisture conditions and outline the oceanic and atmospheric conditions affecting South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. He will also discuss the current seasonal outlooks and global model outputs for the coming months.

GRDC Project Code: 9176117

More information

Dale Grey, 03 5430 4395, dale.grey@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Useful resources

Agriculture Victoria Climate webinars

The Very Fast Break YouTube channel

The Fast Break subscription