DEBATE about the likelihood of an El Niño weather pattern continues among farmers, in the media and on social media platforms.
Opinions often depend on a farm ore region’s recent rainfall experience, or the confidence in weather forecasting or interpretation of the relative importance of models used by meteorologists.
University of Melbourne Associate Professor fire ecology and management Kevin Tolhurst gave his view in a recent The Conversation article and Agrivet Business Consulting principal Dr Graham Lean has posted his view on Twitter.
With a possible El Niño on the cards, Farmers for Climate Action is urging farmers to get on the front foot and is holding a webinar “El Niño explained” next week.
Farmers for Climate Action spokesperson Peter Holding, who farms at Harden NSW, said many farmers were concerned about the possibility of warmer, drier conditions and increased weather variability for eastern Australia this spring and summer.
“The Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t called it yet, but it says there’s a 70% chance we’ll have an El Niño this year.
“It’s also worried dry conditions could be compounded by a positive Indian Ocean Dipole.”
Farmers for Climate Action said the webinar from 12pm AEST on Thursday, 20 July will bring together a range of speakers, including from the bureau and Birchip Cropping Group.
Mr Holding said the webinar was aimed at supporting farmers to better understand what is coming, and also what they can do on farm to prepare.
“Although some farmers have had good conditions recently, we know things can change in a few months.
“This is a great opportunity to get your head around what’s coming and how you might think about responding.”
Mr Holding said that Australian farmers are great at adapting, but that ultimately we need to address the driving cause of climate change – emissions.
“Farmers are always looking three steps ahead to the next event but there are limits to their adaptation.
“While we adapt and mitigate on-farm, we need to know the rest of the economy is doing its bit to reduce emissions and tackle climate change, which is causing more frequent and severe weather events,” he said.
Central west Queensland grazier Bruce Currie said prolonged hot, dry conditions would hit some farmers, but also rural communities.
“Farmers aren’t, can’t and won’t wait for a formal El Niño declaration.” Mr Currie said.
“Once a climate change-fuelled El Niño hits that lasts longer and is more severe, [it] means farmers have to de-stock earlier and for longer.”
Guest speakers at the webinar will include Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Catherine Ganter, certified holistic management certified educator Graeme Hand and Birchip Cropping Group chief executive officer Fiona Best.
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