Handy climate maps sow brighter future for farmers

An online service to help Australian farmers forecast their future under climate change has been updated in response to feedback from the sector.

Called Climate Services for Agriculture (CSA), the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry  service provides climate maps and other essential

information for selected districts and commodities.

Users select their location from a map, then click through to explore climate data available for a particular area and crop or commodity.

First released in June 2021, the platform gives farmers historical data for their location from 1961 to the most recent year past, seasonal forecasts for periods of one to three months, and climate projections for their location for 30 years, with mid-points in 2030, 2050 and 2070.

The information includes climate indicators such as rainfall, temperature, and soil moisture, as well as general trends in climate data, and potential future amounts of rainfall and other parameters.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Murray Watt says the Federal Government tested the platform prototype in pilot regions to ensure the information being provided to farmers was practical.

The latest update includes predictions for mangoes, potatoes and bananas, and a new Temperature Humidity Index (THI) for beef, dairy, and sheep, a measure of thermal stress obtained by combining air temperature with humidity.

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There are also minor improvements to the functionality of the website.

“Regions across Australia have experienced widespread and devastating flooding for the past three years,” Watt says.

“However, drought is also a natural part of our landscape, and periods of drought are likely to become more frequent and severe with climate change.

“That’s why innovative digital tools for farmers, like CSA, are essential to prepare for the return of dry conditions and the changing climate. Farmers can use CSA to assess how the climate variables that matter to their business could change in the future at their location.”

Another tool still under development is the Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool, or DR.SAT, which aims to provide options to strengthen the resilience of farmers to drought and climate change, and that of their communities.

The updated service was a collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.

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