Science seeks a weather toolkit

A major research initiative has been developed to help Australia"s graingrowers better manage the toughest variable they face - the weather.

The Managing Climate Variability Program will oversee 15 climate research projects, including seasonal climate forecasting for profitable sustainable resource use, the improved monitoring of evapotranspiration and enabling nationwide access to the Yield Prophet climate risk management information tool.

The program builds on more than a decade of research by the Climate Variability in Agriculture Program. The new phase is intended to deliver more accurate seasonal forecasts with longer lead times than currently available.

The focus will be on improving climate prediction, providing better access to climate information, developing tools for tactical decision making and further adapting agricultural and natural resource management practices to Australia"s unique circumstances.

The program"s chair, GRDC western panel chairman Dale Baker, says the initiative brings together government, industry and private sector resources into a dedicated program so that climate variability will be better understood by all the industries that suffer the greatest impact. "The practicality and depth of projects funded under the new program provides an indication into the diversity and range of stakeholders with a keen interest in improving their understanding of climate," he says.

The program is funded by the GRDC, Land and Water Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia, National Heritage Trust, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Sugar Research and Development Corporation and Dairy Australia.

Mr Baker says priority research areas will focus on managing risk, improving seasonal forecasts and adapting and road-testing new and existing climate management tools for new applications.

The program"s communication coordinator, Tim Lester, says that growers will eventually be able to use the program"s website, www.managingclimate.gov.au, to download the latest climate variability decision-support tools, which he says are rapidly becoming essential business and risk management tools for agriculture in Australia. The website also contains details of the full range of the program"s research projects.

GRDC Research Code: LWR25

The work of the Managing Climate Variability Program is featured in Ground Cover"s new weather page format.