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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - April 2012

Posted by Bestprac on Apr 09 2012

by Susan Carn (Hawker/Blinman Bestprac Group)

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the National Press Club lunch in Canberra to celebrate the Climate Champion Program. I am one of 34 farmers from different regions and enterprises across Australia who are working with scientists to bring climate research to the paddock, and we let researchers know what climate tools and information farmers need.

After the lunch there was a televised discussion on the topic “Food security in a changing climate”. On the discussion panel were Professor Snow Barlow, Dr Shakeel Bhatti and Susan Findlay Tickner.

Professor Snow Barlow is the Executive Director of the Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries (CCRSPI). Dr Shakeel Bhatti is Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the FAO in Rome. Susan Findlay Tickner is a Wimmera farmer, producing wheat, barley, chickpeas and canola. Susan is a GRDC Southern panel member and a Climate
Champion program participant.

It was great to hear a farmer like Susan Findlay Tickner so passionate and up-beat about the future of farming, and she handled some curly questions from the media with common sense, dignity, and humour. She was a great ambassador for the Climate Champion program and indeed all farmers.

You can view the show at
I had an action packed two days in Canberra, as all CCP get-togethers are! So I will share with you some of my “take home messages” from the research workshops I attended:

  • We must never ignore the trend of rising temperatures, but there will still be cool years.
  • Expect more storms, hail, floods = climate variability. Respond to: trends with extremes.
  • Science has confidence in predicting rising temperatures, but not in lower rainfall. However, spreads of rain (seasons) may change – wrong timing. Shorter growing seasons.
  • Agriculture will cope, but attention to detail is required. Embrace new findings and methods when they emerge.
  • Imperfect knowledge demands a risk management approach = the most likely outcome.
  • The biggest decrease in rainfall happening now is in Autumn. The STR (sub-tropical ridge) is a big factor (High pressure systems more intense = blocking)
  • Interesting research into how livestock systems will adapt to predicted 2030 climate conditions: early findings are that some places will have to change enterprises, others fare much better (those with summer rain),
  • and profits may still improve with genetics, careful management of cover in paddocks, or using feedlots.
  • If considering carbon farming use grant money - lots of funding for projects available (eg NRM boards),
  • but beware of entrepreneurs in carbon sequestration. Be very cautious. Read fine print & conditions. Will never be a big earner. Could either increase or decrease the value of your land!
  • Farmers already actively managing climate variability are wealthier! The gap between the best and average farmers is widening.
  • The last and most important message: you have to enjoy and be happy farming!

Last changed: Apr 10 2012



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