Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Collaboration
GROUND COVER COLLABORATION 6 CLIMATE VARIABILITY 6 WHILE SOME MAY argue the rain always stops the wrong side of their farm boundary, climate is one issue that unites all farmers. The Managing Climate Variability R&D program has been helping Australian growers manage climate risk ‘on the ground’ for more than a decade by providing them with practical tools to incorporate weather and climate information into farm business decisions. Managing Climate Variability runs to 2014 and is underpinned by the 2008–14 R&D Strategy. Bringing together six partners (see Table 1) the R&D strategy is focused on investments that increase forecasting accuracy, build the predictive capability of key attributes, such as frost and soil moisture, and develop decision-support tools. The skill to produce multi-week forecasts six to eight weeks in advance is improving rapidly. Several new projects will assist the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) make multi-week forecasting operational. Many growers with an eye to minimising input costs and maximising production benefits, such as timing for fertiliser top-dressing or chemical spraying, or in the grape industry increasing irrigation before heat waves and so on, are demanding this more tactical approach to climate and on-farm practice. The long and the short of weather forecasts Climate is one variable growers can never control, but better forecasting and understanding can help reduce the associated risks By Colin Creighton These projects will help improve the outputs from the BoM’s Predictive Oceanic Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA) and present them on Water and the Land (www.bom.gov.au/watl). Research by Dr Senthold Asseng, from the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, has shown, for example, that wheat farmers in south-west Western Australia could benefit from using growing-season rainfall forecasts generated by POAMA (poama.bom.gov.au). His work shows that when growers are provided with POAMA forecasts they can make better decisions about when to apply nitrogen fertilisers. This resulted in higher returns for the grower in WA’s southern wheatbelt – of more than $50 per hectare a year when farmers reduced their fertiliser in forecasted below- average years and increased it in above-average years. Despite the need for further work, growers in several industry sectors who have trialled the multi-week forecasting tool have been pleased with its reliability. POAMA uses global circulation models rather than historical records to produce forecasts of wet and dry spells, to fit between the current seven day and three month season forecasts. Dr Andrew Watkins, from the National Climate Greenhouse gas reduction Changing management practices could help reduce agriculture’s nitrous oxide emissions ACCORDING TO THE Department of Climate Change’s annual inventory, about 85 per cent of all nitrous oxide emissions came from agriculture (AGO 2007). Nitrous oxide is a serious greenhouse gas and agricultural sources include soil, manure and biomass burning. The GRDC, as program leader, is collaborating on two independent projects that aim to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. In a project co-funded with Dairy Australia, the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Australian Government’s Climate Change Research Program, Kevin Kelly, from the Victorian DPI, is researching potential methods of reducing nitrous oxide production from animal production systems. Improved dietary balance, increasing nitrogen efficiency of excreta and fertiliser, and avoidance of anaerobic soil conditions (primarily caused Sugarcane production releases large quantities of nitrous oxide, but amounts vary by season and soil type.
GC Supplement - Foliar fungal diseases
GC Supplement - Spray application technology