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NSW seasonal outlook
The national outlook for February to April 2013 indicates an average to drier season for NSW, with average to cooler temperatures, due to warmer than normal waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead/?ref=ftr
International climate models indicate that sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are expected to remain neutral at least until the southern hemisphere autumn.
El Nino developments
El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators in the tropical Pacific remain at neutral levels and are likely to continue into the southern hemisphere autumn. A clearer indication of Pacific Ocean conditions for 2013 will emerge over the next few months. Sustained SOI values above +8 may indicate a La Niña event, sustained negative values below −8 may indicate an El Niño event. Values between +8 and −8 generally indicate neutral conditions.
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently neutral, with the latest IOD index value at −0.1°C for the week ending 27 January. The IOD typically has limited influence on Australia during the summer.
January soil moisture
AWAP’s soil moisture maps for January 2013 show very little topsoil moisture in western NSW, with average levels in eastern NSW (below left); and wetter subsoils in the state’s west, and drier subsoils in the east (below right). Blue is wetter than the 1961-1990 average for the time of year; red is drier.
January’s average maximum temperature was the highest on record for Australia due largely to the heatwave during the month which coincided with the late onset of the northern Australian monsoon, which prevented moisture and tropical cloud from moderating inland temperatures. The heatwave set records in every State and Territory. Read the special climate statement at the website below.
Third warmest January for NSW
The past month was the third warmest NSW January on record and the warmest since 1939. The average maximum was 3.66°C above the historical average of 35.34°C. The average minimum was 1.92°C above the historical average of 19.61°C. Much of inland NSW recorded a minimum 8°C above normal on 18 January.
Above left: NSW January temperature deciles. Above right: NSW January rainfall deciles. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/month/nsw/summary.shtml
Ex-cyclone Oswald brings rain
Most of the east coast of Queensland and the NSW coast north of Illawarra experienced very heavy rainfall from 22 to 29 January 2013 leading to record flood peaks in the Queensland’s Burnett catchment and NSW’s Clarence catchment. Almost all of the east coast from the Hunter north to Cape York received at least 200 millimetres n the event. The highest NSW total was 1046 millimetres at Upper Rous River. The most extreme daily falls occurred on 28 January over the Gold Coast hinterland (744 mm) and NSW Border Ranges (539 mm).
Australia’s climate in 2012
Australia had near-average rain and above-average temperatures during 2012, but the average annual values conceal a year of contrasts, with above-average rain early in the year (top right) and reduced rainfall in winter and spring (below right). The 2003–2012 decade was the fifth-warmest 10-year period on record.
NSW in 2012
NSW’s 2012 climate was characterised by wet and cool conditions for January-March and dry conditions for the rest of the year. The January–March maximum temperature was 1.6°C below average, and the July–December maximum temperature was 1.7°C above. The state rainfall average for January–March was the third wettest for NSW since records began in 1900, resulting in widespread flooding across much of the state. The combination of a strong high pressure ridge and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event in late winter resulted in the driest April-December period since 2006. Below: NSW rainfall deciles for 2012
Link between global warming and rainfall extremes
Analysis of 8326 weather stations around the world has found that the rainfall extremes are increasing, and the increase is linked to warming of the atmosphere. Rainfall intensity increased 5.9% to 7.7% for each degree of heat. Three to five degrees of warming by the end of the 21st century could mean as much as a 35% increase in extreme rainfall intensity.
Ozone hole changes ocean flow
The hole in the Antarctic ozone layer has caused changes in the way that waters in the southern oceans mix and resulted in strengthening of westerly winds near the ocean surface. Waters originating at the surface at sub-tropical latitudes are mixing into the deeper ocean at a much higher rate than 20 years ago, and the reverse is true for waters closer to Antarctica.
Climate and wheat on the Darling Downs
A study of wheat growing on the Darling Downs in a changing climate found that for irrigated scenarios yield increased with earlier sowing dates and increasing temperature, but decreased for the non-irrigated scenario.
1990 IPCC predictions proving accurate
Climate predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990 are proving remarkably accurate, probably because the greenhouse-gas-induced warming is largely overwhelming radiative forcings of secondary importance on the 20-year timescale.
Climate change concerns vary
NCCARF’s second Australian national survey of public perceptions of climate change in August 2011 found that respondents accepted the reality of climate change and were concerned about its implications, possibly due to the extreme weather events in 20102011. In contrast, a 2012 ABS survey found concern about climate change had decreased from 73 per cent in 2007-08 to 57 per cent in 2011-12 possibly due to good rainfall across much of Australia over the last few years.
Funding for regional NRM planning for climate change
Australian Government funding will help Australia’s 54 regional NRM organisations plan for climate change impacts on the land. Stream 1 funds will help organisations identify where in the landscape climate change adaptation and mitigation activities should occur. Stream 2 funds will support development of scenarios about the impacts of climate change (water, temperature, storms) which can be used for medium term land use planning. Applications for Stream 1 funds close on 26 February 2013.
Free CliMate app
CliMate, a free app developed for the Managing Climate Variability Program, allows farmers to interrogate climate records for the past 60 years to learn about rainfall, temperature, radiation, as well as derived variables such soil water and soil nitrate. A web version will be released in March.
BoM rainfall deficiency reports
Rainfall deficiency reports record significant rainfall deficiencies that may impact communities, industries and farmers.
Victorian climate change risks
The Victorian government has released a paper analysing key risks that climate change presents to the state, including impacts on biodiversity and primary production, drought, flood, bushfires and heatwaves.
Climate disaster resilience
A study into how communities recover from disasters such as fires, drought, floods and cyclones found disaster resilience depends on support from family and friends; a sense of place and connection to the community; financial capacity and preparedness; and trust in climate change communication sources.
The human impact of extreme weather
This media brief from the Climate Institute looks at the physical, mental and emotional impacts of extreme weather.
Forecast explorer NSW
BoM’s Forecast Explorer NSW provides three or six hourly forecasts for seven days on a 6 km grid, making it an excellent planning tool for farmers. The interactive site allows users to select the day and the weather parameter, including maximum and minimum temperature, humidity, chance of and likely rainfall, weather, and wind. http://www.bom.gov.au/forecasts/grap hical/public/nsw/index.php 6
Climate change adaptation navigator
This web-based application tool is designed to assist local and state governments and regional organisations adapt to the impacts of climate change. It covers ten different planning stages, provides information on climate science and climatic changes, and includes case studies from Victorian local government.
Can crops withstand more heat waves?
In many cereal crops such as wheat, chickpea and rice, the reproductive stage is sensitive to high temperatures, so it is important to target physiological traits such as pollen viability for heat tolerance.
This US paper concludes that agricultural systems need to take a landscape approach to improve food security and rural livelihoods and adapt to climate change. Three features characterise a climate-smart landscape: climate-smart practices at the field and farm scale; diversity of land use across the landscape; and management of land use interactions at landscape scale.
Global climate policy impacts on livestock and land use
This PNAS paper provides an integrated assessment of the linkages between land-based climate policies, development, and food security, with a particular emphasis on abatement opportunities and impacts in the livestock sector.
Witness king tides
Witness king tides is a community photo project to help communities understand where seawater will reach as sea levels rise.
Adaptive capacity of SEQ
Research into the adaptive capacity of south-east Queensland concludes that the major issue is not the availability of physical resources but the dominant social, political and institutional culture of the region.
NCCARF climate publications
The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility has published a number of research publications in the past 12 months which can be accessed at the website below.
CFI eligible offsets projects
Six agriculture-based projects have been declared eligible offsets projects under section 27 of the CFI Act. They include three projects to destroy methane generated from manure in piggeries, two to quantify carbon sequestration by permanent environmental plantings of native species, and one to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through early dry season savannah burning. The remaining 21 projects declared eligible to date deal with landfill gas from legacy waste. Eligible offsets projects are for activities that achieve greenhouse gas abatement and have been declared eligible by the Clean Energy Regulator
Update of CFI methodologies guidelines
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has revised the guidelines and template for submitting methodologies for the Carbon Farming Initiative. All methodology proposals submitted to the DOIC after 28 February 2013 must use the updated version of the template.
CFI methodologies webinar
A webinar update on CFI methodologies on 5 December 2012 is now available online.
Carbon Farming Initiative News
This online newsletter is published whenever new information becomes available. To subscribe, go to the website below.
Comments sought on carbon farming skill sets
AgriFood Skills Australia is inviting feedback on the proposed new skill sets and units of competency being developed as part of a nationally accredited qualification for carbon farming service providers. The required skill set will depend on whether a person wishes to act as an adviser, aggregator or project manager. Feedback for this consultation round will close on 15 February 2013.
New book on nitrous oxide mitigation
This book offers an extensive look at mitigation techniques to reduce emissions from agricultural soils and fertiliser nitrogen sources.
Global climate action map
The Climate Institute has developed this map to summarise high-level national actions on climate change.
Water use on Australian farms 2010-11
Australia's total agricultural water use in 2010-11 was 7,551 gigalitres, 38% less than in 2004-05.Almost two thirds was used in the Murray-Darling Basin. NSW and Queensland use the most water. Cotton and rice were the main users of NSW irrigation water, accounting for 67% of all irrigation water in the state. NSW had the greatest number of irrigating agricultural businesses, over a quarter of all such businesses in Australia.
NSW water storages
NSW water storages are at 65% of capacity compared with 74% at this time last year. Some storages, such as Lake Keepit, are over 50% down on their January 2012 levels.
http://water.bom.gov.au/waterstorage/awris/ ?ref=ftr#urn:bom.gov.au:awris:common:cod elist:region.state:newsouthwales
$100 million for infrastructure upgrades
Five regional organisations and irrigation businesses in the southern MDB will share in $100 million to upgrade on-farm infrastructure: Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Inc, Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd, Fruit Growers Victoria Limited, the South Australian MurrayDarling Basin NRM Board, and Waterfind. Projects include laser levelling of paddocks, upgrading overhead irrigation, replacing flood irrigation, modernising drip irrigation systems and installing soil moisture monitoring and automation equipment.
SA cuts MDB contribution
The SA Government will cut its future contribution to river operations, maintenance and natural resource programs in the Murray–Darling Basin. The decision follows the NSW Government’s decision in June 2012 to cut its contribution.
Nutrient management for better water quality
Community expectations for water quality, stricter standards from international markets, and increasing costs for purchased nutrients mean that improving nutrient-use efficiency and reducing nutrient losses will be a necessary part of Australia livestock production systems in the future, according to a paper in the December issue of Crop and Pasture Science. .
Banking water underground
Storing surplus water underground during wet periods for use in dry times will help Australia prepare for drought. ‘Spare’ water can be stored by channelling water to sand or gravel beds where it can filter down into the aquifer. The Burdekin region of Queensland is already storing about 45GL of water underground each year for use in agriculture and horticulture.
Commonwealth environmental water holder appointed
David Papps is the new Commonwealth environmental water holder, responsible for rejuvenating wetlands and rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin.
SoilMapp for iPad is a free app that provides soil information at any location in Australia. It allows users to view maps, photographs, satellite images and data about local soils, and learn about the soil on their property, including physical and chemical characteristics such as acidity, carbon, water storage capacity, salinity and erodibility.
Use of ground rock fertilisers
A RIRDC study into use of certified organic nutrients on beef grazing pastures found that ground rock fertilisers were sufficient to supply pasture with phosphorus and potassium during the conversion phase to organic production. The fertilisers altered the composition and relative abundance of soil microorganisms and changed some microbial activities.
Soil and sustainable food
In the 2012 Leeper Soil Science Lecture in November, Professor John Crawford from the University of Sydney spoke on the interaction between physical and biological processes in soil and their contribution to soil resilience.
Guiding principles for sustainable biochar
The International Biochar Initiative has developed 13 guiding principles for a sustainable biochar industry. The principles cover soil health, greenhouse gases, energy efficiency, feedstocks and production systems.
Biochar fact sheet:
This four page brochure from GRDC summarises the current state of knowledge on biochar.
Biosolids drying plant opens
Victoria has opened Australia’s largest biosolids drying plant near Geelong to convert sewage biosolids into fertiliser. Wet biosolids are now piped to the drying plant instead of being trucked to drying bays to dry in the sun and wind.
New dung beetle book
Renowned dung beetle expert Dr Bernard Doube and organic agriculture expert Tim Marshall have produced a new publication on the benefits and use of dung beetles: ‘Dung beetles: a friend to farmers and the environment’.
Soils: Principles, properties and management
This book is intended for undergraduate and graduate students who study soil as a natural resource. It emphasises the ecological and agrological functions of soil in the context of food security and biodiversity and has a special focus on current soil issues such as soil degradation and climate change.
New book: Know soil know life
‘Know soil know life’ is a new book from the Soil Science Society of America targeted at high school and undergraduate students. It is produced by the society’s education committee, which has also launched an education website Soils4teachers.
Keyline farming video 1955
This video, made by the Bank of NSW in 1955, explains the keyline farming systems developed by PA Yeomans on his North Richmond farm to hold water in the soil.
YouTube soil videos
YouTube has become a popular medium for soil promotion. Check the links below. The Soil Science Society of America: The Story of Soil, www.iheartsoil.org Technical University in Berlin: The day soil died www.youtube.com/user/mediasoil FAO: Soils www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8TyaL2DAPA Global Soil Week: Let’s Talk About Soil http://vimeo.com/53618201
Need for biodiversity protection in high rainfall zone
A new CSIRO report says paddock trees and rocky outcrops play a vital role in biodiversity protection in Australia’s high rainfall zone where improved pastures and cropping are having a significant impact on the diverse ecological communities that exist in native grasslands.
Paddock trees and pasture yields
A recent study has found that mature scattered paddock trees do not compromise pasture yield but drought pressure changes tree-pasture interactions. Management options exist to conserve and restore scattered trees in agricultural landscapes, but new policies are required to support their widespread adoption by farmers.
Large tree decline
Populations of large old trees are rapidly declining in many parts of the world, with serious implications for ecosystem integrity and biodiversity.
Snow Gums to River Reds
'Snow Gums to River Reds' is a 25 minute film about the Eucalyptus species from Mount Kosciuszko to the Murray River around Albury NSW. The film was completed in November 2012, and tells a story of a handful of the 30 or so Eucalypts found in the area, through the people who live and work along the route from Australia's highest peak to the banks of the Murray River. The film has been produced by the Slopes2Summit (S2S) conservation partnership, part of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative. You can view it online.
Farmer management of native vegetation
ABARES research the way native vegetation is managed on agricultural land has found that most farmers manage native vegetation for both environmental and production benefits and many intend to do more. However, there is a need for greater clarity and certainty about government native vegetation management programs and regulations.
Fodder saltbush provides habitat
Native saltbush planted for stock fodder in the Murray Mallee has proved excellent habitat for the sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa). The saltbush plantings in the study were all about 10 years old and the site was surrounded by cereal crops on all sides and isolated from roadside remnants of native vegetation.
Bee Friendly planting guide
A new book, ‘Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators’, provides ideas and choices of plant species to encourage honeybees and Australian pollen- and nectarusing fauna, including mammals, insects and birds. The RIRDC publication includes planting choices for home gardens, parks, paddocks and forests.
Pollinator diversity is important
A Swiss study of pollinating insects found that diversity of the pollinator community is as important as numbers of pollinators, highlighting the need for conservation and restoration of the pollination community as a whole.
Ferals prefer cropping landscapes
A Queensland study has found that vertebrate pest management needs to target highly fragmented cropping landscapes where foxes and feral cats occur more frequently than in intact native woodlands and pasture landscapes.
Fox control program wins award
Central West Livestock Health and Pest Authority has won the Australasian Wildlife Management Society’s inaugural practitioner’s award for its Goonoo fox control program.
Living Australia Atlas
The online Atlas of Living Australia contains information on all the known species in Australia from museums, herbaria, community groups, government departments, individuals and universities. A free OzAtlas app is also available.
GRDC weeds app
GRCD has developed a weeds app to help growers identify the most common weeds in southern Australia. The app includes photographs of growth stages and calendars to show which month/s the weed is likely to be present in the paddock.
Prospectus for biodiversity investment 2013-14
The Australian Government ‘s ‘One land - many stories: Prospectus of investment’ provides an overarching framework of the Australian Government's priorities for funding conservation and improving natural resource management in 2013–14, including target areas, national priorities and available grant funding.
Australia’s role in global food security
This paper from the Office of the Chief Scientist says Australia’s most valuable assets to support food security in our region and the world are our knowledge of agricultural science, and the ingenuity our farmers have used to produce food on a continent fraught with environmental challenges. We are well placed to apply the outcomes of agricultural R&D in Australia and developing countries, across a range of commodities.
Climate-friendly food production
This Worldwatch report highlights six strategies that are helping food producers mitigate or adapt to climate change: build soil fertility, incorporate agroforestry, grow food in urban areas, grow cover crops, conserve and recycle water, and preserve biodiversity and native species.
Global food: Waste not want not
This report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers estimates that 30–50% (1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced is wasted due to poor practices in harvesting, storage, transport, and market and consumer management.
Hungry City forum 2012
Hungry City 2012 was an international forum held in France in December to review urban food governance and supply issues around the world. Presentations on food policy, supply chains, and periurban agriculture are available at the website below.
Changes to Queensland’s strategic cropping land map
The Queensland Government has announced changes to its strategic cropping land map that identifies areas that should be protected from development and maintained for food and fibre production. The original map encompassed areas no longer highly suitable for cropping. The standard conditions code for resource activities has also been revised to reduce the need for complex assessments and associated fees for activities with a low risk of adversely impacting strategic cropping land.
Legislation protects SA wine areas
South Australia’s McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley regions are now protected from urban sprawl thanks to legislation which came into effect on 18 January and will ensure that the land continues to be used for to produced globally recognised gourmet food and wine. For more information, go to the website below and type ‘Barossa protection’ in the search line.
Rural and peri-urban land use policy in Australia
This paper discusses the pressures and drivers of land use change, community values ascribed to land use and the policy tools that can be used to facilitate the distribution of land uses to maximise the total value to the community.
Social impacts of land use change
A study of land use change in south-east Australia found that local residents were not always aware of the extent and nature of land use change, and had difficulty attributing social changes and their impacts to the land use changes that underlie them. The felt impacts of land use change appeared dependent on a person's awareness of that change, and on their beliefs about the causes of social change.
Rural land ownership in Australia
This RIRDC report into rural land ownership across the six states of Australia between 2004 and 2008 found that 4 per cent of rural land changed ownership each year. Australia: https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/12-038 NSW: https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/12-128
A study in the Population and Development Review suggests that the amount of land used for growing crops around the world has peaked, due to a slowing down in the rate of population increase and agricultural innovation.
The concept of landscape agronomy is that research on agricultural landscapes should integrate both the influence of the landscape on farming practices, and the role of farmers in shaping patterns and processes in the landscape. This paper describes how landscape agronomy can help explain the relationship between farming practices, landscape patterns and natural resources.
Agricultural social trends
The number of farmers in Australia fell by more than 100,000 between 1981 and 2011, a 40 per cent decrease. The median age of farmers is now 53, nearly one in four farmers is aged 65 or more, and half of Australia’s farmers work 49 hours or more a week. People in farming families are more than twice as likely as those in other families to do voluntary work for an organisation or group (39% compared with 19%). These figures are included in the Australian Bureau of Statistics latest edition of its quarterly Australian Social Trends.
http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features10Dec+2012 http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/LookupAttach/4102.0Publication11.12.121/$File/41020_ASTDec201 2.pdf
Cancer risk from agricultural chemicals
A growing number of well-designed epidemiological and molecular studies provide substantial evidence that the pesticides used in agricultural, commercial, and home and garden applications are associated with excess cancer risk, says a recent review published in journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. This risk is associated both with those 15
applying the pesticide and, under some conditions, those who are bystanders to the application.
Sustainability award for SA winery
The Barossa Valley’s Kalleske Wines has won a SA sustainability award for its farming practices which include use of green-manure cover crops to suppress interrow winter weeds, mechanical control of undervine weeds, composting of winery waste for use as vineyard fertiliser, on site solar electricity generation, and rainwater harvesting. The farm, vineyards and winery use certified organic and biodynamic methods.
Caring for our Country: Sustainable agriculture funding
The delivery of the second phase of Caring for our Country will be through two streams: sustainable agriculture and sustainable environment. The focus of the five year sustainable agriculture stream is sustainable production of food, innovative practices, reduced impact of weeds and pests, improved management of the natural resource base, and a skilled and capable Landcare community. A mix of funding approaches will be used to deliver these objectives, including community landcare grants. Applications for the first round of these grants close on 20 March.
Community owned rural catchment management
This NZ publication is designed for people interested in the management of catchment scale projects. It looks at the nine key stages and seven key enablers for community ownership of projects, six questions for strategic thinking, information on collaborative planning and management, incentives and regulations, and includes several case studies.
Promoting primary industries to a new generation
The primary industries sector embraced social media and the internet in 2012 to connect to the next generation. Here are some examples. I’m farming and I grow it (US): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48H7zOQrX3U Bill Bailey introduces FACE UK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7rHoWKpS1A Yeo Valley commercial (UK): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOHAUvbuV4o Steph’s ag adventures (Aus): http://stephsagventures.com/ Australian Year of the Farmer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFUZ_j2cCe0
February 5-8 February 18-21 February 22 February 25-27 March 5-6 March 5-7 March 20-21 April 7-12 April 10-11 June 24-27 October 8-11 24-27 March 2014
Linking sustainability, environment and human well-being, Canberra
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network Symposium, Canberra https://events.cievents.com.au/au/getdemo.ei?id=2643&s=_4P40PQ86B Meeting future water supply challenges, Sydney http://www.legalwiseseminars.com.au/8th-annual-water-symposium First International Controlled Traffic Farming Conference, Toowoomba www.actfa.net Outlook 2013: Future food, future farming, Canberra http://www.daff.gov.au/abares/outlook National water education conference, Sydney http://www.awa.asn.au/4th_NEC.aspx 3rd National Sustainable Food Summit, Melbourne http://www.3pillarsnetwork.com.au/p3_Events-Resources.html?&event=88 International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis, Queenstown NZ www.isspa2013.com National water congress, Sydney http://abcevents.net.au/water/ Climate adaptation 2013 http://www.nccarf.edu.au/conference2013/ Greenhouse 2013: the science of climate change, Adelaide http://www.greenhouse2013.com/ Soil change matters symposium, Bendigo
To subscribe to NRM on farms, email Rebecca Lines-Kelly at email@example.com.