Universities share $38m in drought resilience funding

As Australia looks ahead to the El Niño predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology, the government has announced additional science funding to build drought resilience across the country.

At the opening of the Bush Summit in Tamworth, New South Wales, Prime Minsietr Anthony Albanese said the federal government would put another $38 million into a long-term trial of new and emerging agriculture practices to build drought resilience.

“An El Niño points to possible drier conditions and an increased risk of drought,” CSIRO Drought Resilience Mission lead Dr Graham Bonnett said.

“Droughts occur after an extended period, such as more than a year, of much lower-than-average rainfall. While a drought can technically happen anywhere, it’s often the regional communities that rely heavily on agriculture who are most affected.”

The extra funding will be spent under the Future Drought Fund. Some of the projects already supported through the fund have improved dams, created wetlands, developed drought resilience plans, improved riparian management, and trials for dry planting.

The $38 million announced will go to 6 projects:

  1. Charles Sturt University will receive $6.23 million to investigate the interdependence and whole-system effects of cropping and livestock components and managing environmental and social impacts in response to seasonal variation in New South Wales.
  2. The Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils will receive $3.94 million to evaluate drought reliance in farming systems in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
  3. NQ Dry Tropic Limited will receive $4.32 million to look at the effectiveness of virtual fencing for fine-scale, drought-resilient grazing systems over large areas in Charters Towers in Queensland.
  4. The University of Melbourne will receive $7.2 million to look at farming-systems adaptations thought to improve drought resilience of broadacre grains, grazing and mixed farming systems in Victoria and Tasmania.
  5. Flinders University will receive $8 million to study the climate resilience of cropping, livestock, and mixed farms across the pastoral, low, medium, and high rainfall zones of South Australia.
  6. Deakin University will receive $7.99 million to investigate the diversity in pastures to build resilience, and support 365 days of feed production in southern temperate grazing enterprises with trials to be undertaken across multiple sites in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Tamworth Bush Summit is being followed by Bush Summits in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland.

The Greenlight Project is a year-long look at how regional Australia is preparing for and adapting to climate change.

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