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The application of climate forecasts to crop management in northern Australia

Carberry, P.S. Dr; ph: (07) 4688 1200; fax: (07) 4688 1193; Peter.Carberry@tag.csiro.au

Hammer, G.L. Dr; ph: (07) 4688 1200; fax: (07) 4688 1193; HammerG@prose.dpi.qld.gov.au

Stone, R. Dr; Ph: (07) 4688 1293; Mobile: 0412 559 408; Fax: (07) 4688 1193; rogers@apsrusg.sth.dpi.qld.gov.au

Research organisation: CSIRO Tropical Agriculture/APSRU, PO Box 102, Toowoomba Qld 4350; Queensland Department of Primary Industries/APSRU, PO Box 102, Toowoomba Qld 4350.

Sponsor: CSIRO Climate Variability Multi-Divisional Program

Aims:

To assess the value of climate forecasts derived from CSIRO climate models in terms of management decisions within dryland cropping systems.

Methodology:

There has been extensive research analysing the use of SOI as a forecast for use in crop management. Such forecasts generally have short lead times and therefore their impact is seen soon after the decision time. Research using Global Circulation Models (GCMs) within CSIRO Divisions of Atmospheric Research and Oceanography is providing indices of climate forecasts in addition to measured SOI and with prospects for improved persistence in prediction skill for up to 12 months ahead. This project intends to explore these alternative forecasts in the context of management decisions in dryland agriculture.

Progress:

Seasonal climate forecasts can undoubtedly assist farmers in managing cropping systems, either in short-term tactical decisions or long-term strategic decisions. This work reviewed a range of applications for climate forecasts and concluded that there are a number of systems issues that would benefit from long lead-time forecasts. A specific case study was employed that demonstrated considerable potential for using seasonal climate forecasts in assisting the incorporation of opportunity cropping into dryland cotton production systems.

The value of the SOI has often been assessed on crop performance within 3-6 months of a forecast. The results from the case study explored here demonstrated impacts on crop rotations ending 18 months after the initial forecast. Such impacts were mainly a consequence of the effects on soil water storage at the end this initial 3-6 month period. This telegraphing of a forecast beyond 6 months via a soil water signal provides the opportunity to assess SOI as a longer-lead time forecast than has been explored to date in analyses that have considered correlation solely with seasonal rainfall.

This work introduced a decision-analysis framework to assess the value of the climate forecasts against multiple criteria. This analysis framework proved useful in exploring tradeoffs between conflicting objectives in assessing the value of a climate forecast.

Period: starting date 1995-07; completion date 1998-06

Status: completed

Keywords: climate models, seasonal outlooks, crop management

Publications:

Carberry, P.S., Hammer, G.L. and Meinke, H. (in press). The potential value of seasonal climate forecasting in managing cropping systems. Hammer, G.L. (Ed.), Application of Seasonal Climate Forecasting in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems - The Australian Experience. Cambridge University Press.

Hammer, G.L. Carberry, P.S. and Stone, R. (in press). Comparing the value of seasonal climate forecasting systems in managing cropping systems. Hammer, G.L. (Ed.), Application of Seasonal Climate Forecasting in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems - The Australian Experience. Cambridge University Press.

Meinke, H., Carberry, P.S. Hammer, G.L. and Stone, R.C. (in press). The use of seasonal climate forecasts in cropping systems management. Proceedings of the 9th Australian Agronomy Conference, Wagga Wagga, July 1998.

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