Better seasonal forecasting for farmers on the way
4 February 2016
Progress is well underway on a $3.3 million Bureau of Meteorology project under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to provide better seasonal forecasts.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said the project was delivering on the government’s Ag White Paper commitment to give farmers more accurate, localised and frequent forecasting information.
“Accurate, detailed and frequent climate outlooks are a vital tool for our farmers in managing risk and informing business decisions, supporting better returns at the farmgate. It’s been estimated that the potential value to the agriculture sector of improved seasonal forecasts is more than $1 billion each year,” Minister Joyce said.
“The new seasonal forecasting service will deliver more localised forecasts, improving the modelling resolution from 250 kilometres down to 60 kilometres, and will also provide more frequent forecasts, updated weekly instead of monthly.
“It is expected that improvements in outlook accuracy from the project will give our farmers access to the world's best seasonal outlooks for Australia.
“The development of this new model involves extensive consultation with farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the service will give farmers the information they need in a format that is clear, concise and easy to access.
“Implementation of the new model and design and testing of the online user interface will commence in 2016, with the new service expected to be incrementally released and fully operational by 2018-19.”
"This is one of the first projects to leverage off the power of the Bureau's new supercomputer which was funded by the Australian government in 2015. The supercomputer is on track to be operational from later this year and will have 20 times the current power,” Minister Hunt said.
"The supercomputer allows higher resolution and the models will be more frequent and more sophisticated. Ultimately this means more accurate forecasting.
"The Australian climate is more variable than almost anywhere in the world. Thanks to this important work farmers and other users will be better prepared to manage the fluctuations and extremes."
Minister Joyce said the project was just one of a range of measures under the Ag White Paper to help farmers manage climate risk, prepare for and recover from drought.
“The Ag White Paper is further strengthening our approach to drought and risk management with $250 million in drought concessional loans in 2015–16; over $9.5 million in projects so far announced under the Drought Communities Programme; $15 million for tackling pest animals and weeds; $20 million to expand community and mental health support; and a dedicated hotline to provide advice to drought-affected taxpayers that has so far received more than 13,000 calls.”
For more information on the Australian Government’s range of drought support measures, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.
To read the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.