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Using climatic data for agricultural decision making

Abrecht, D.G. Dr; Ph: (08) 9368 3499; Mobile 0417 934 648; Fax: (08) 9368 2165; dabrecht@agric.wa.gov.au

Research organisation: Agriculture Western Australia, 3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151

Sponsor: GRDC-WA, Grains Research and Development Corporation; WA State Committee

Objectives:

1.      To publish key climatic data in a form that is useful for agricultural decision making;

2.      To define the key climatic risks for agriculture in Western Australia;

3.      To promote the use of historical climate data, assessment of climatic risk and forecasts in decision making by farmers.

Methodology:

This project is a joint project between Bureau of Meteorology and Department of Agriculture Western Australia. The project will derive and publish measures of climatic uncertainty for agricultural production in Western Australia based on historical weather records and takes advantage of the expertise of the Bureau of Meteorology in climatology and the Department of Agriculture in assessing the impact of weather on agriculture and agricultural decision making. Collaborative arrangements have been sought with Qld DPI (Rainman) and CSIRO (MetAccess) to minimise duplication and expedite the project. The first task is assessing and evaluating historical climatic data (rainfall, temperature, wind direction and speed, radiation, evaporation) to get the best data on which to base analyses of climatic uncertainty. Procedures developed by the Bureau of Meteorology and Qld DPI will be used to assist in this task. The second task is to derive measures of climatic risk for use by decision makers in the agricultural industries, for example probabilities of seasonal rainfall, wind erosion events and sowing opportunities. Experts and farmers in various agricultural fields will assist in these analyses to ensure that the climatic uncertainties derived are relevant to agricultural decision making. Similar analyses could be used to define the impact of climatic change given predicted climatic information. The third task is to promote the use of the information amongst decision makers. The project will produce a booklet and initiate a pamphlet series. The booklet will outline: - the main influences on the weather in the Western Australian agricultural areas - key locations for data, including length of record and reliability and - summaries of climatic events of relevance to agriculture in Western Australia. Pamphlets will also be published and regularly updated describing climatic uncertainties for specific industries. The computer programs used to derive climatic uncertainties will be incorporated into a decision aid for climatic uncertainty in Western Australia, to be targeted at farmers, advisers and agribusiness consultants. This aid will probably be RAINMAN.

Progress: Historical data were analysed and software developed to assess climatic risk.

Period: starting date 1993-07; completion date 1996-06

Status: completed

Keywords: climate data, risk management

Publications:

 Abrecht, D.G. and Balston, J.M. (1996). Rules for managing the break of the season in Mediterranean environments. Proceedings of the Second Australian Conference on Agricultural Meteorology, 1-4 October 1996, The University of Queensland, pp. 111-115.

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