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Dubbo Forum report: managing in a variable climate

Posted by Bestprac on Sep 06 2010

By Mark Gardner

On 27 July 2010, some 25 landholders attended a forum on managing in a variable climate. This forum was part of the Bestprac Climate Change project, but was also part of the Family Farm Business Boot Camp project, run by Vanguard.

The forum started a month before with some pre work, and some pre reading.

As part of the pre work, landholders were asked to look at their historical rainfall and climate figures and to investigate their own local climate trends over the long term using the excellent websites: and Armed with this information on the day, landholders were fully informed as to their local climate changes and the extremes in changes in climate and rainfall over the short and longer term.

Some sites had evaporation measures and had trend results over time, which made for some very interesting discussion.

Landholders worked in small teams, discussing climate trends over time. Given the wide geographic spread of people within the group, there were also some wide climatic variances, depending on locality.

A general comment was, that regardless of location, there had been greater variability in temperatures (maximum and minimum) and rainfall over the last decade. Some sites had received higher than average rainfall over the last 10 years, as compared to longer term averages, but the pattern was different, with rain often falling as larger storm events and a long dry period in between.

This made production difficult.

Further information that was handed out and discussed related to climate predictions from the Central West CMA and NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change Summary of Climate Impacts: Western NSW.

We spent some time on the web looking at a range of industry tools that could be useful aids to management.

In the afternoon we broke back into groups to look at practical strategies that landholders could use to manage in a variable climate. A key discussion point was the need for flexible stock numbers and being able to adjust these to feed conditions. This created a spirited discussion on enterprise mix and techniques to maintain flexibility in stock numbers in a breeding operation. A key focus was also the massively important role of ground cover and how important this was to maintain.

Further discussions included cropping systems and stock water impacts.

We also covered risk management through farm insurances, and the need to review these in light of predictions.

Participants were able to openly discuss their own issues and options in small groups and draw up some practical strategies and actions to take away with them and to write into a Strategic Response Plan, which is to be part of the Bootcamp project.

These plans are due to be handed in and assessed at the end of August 2010.

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under the FarmReady initiative, part of Australia’s Farming Future.

Last changed: Feb 07 2012



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