Thursday, December 7, 2023



CMA on the lookout for natural drought refuges

The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is on the lookout for drought refuge pools – natural bodies of water that stay full, even during dry times.

Current conditions driving demand for hay

Australian farmers are requesting donated hay at a phenomenal rate as drought and bushfire conditions bite ... Queensland cattle producer Betty Johnson, of Biggenden, this month received hay from Rural Aid ... “We’ve had no rain at all since about January which means that I’ve been feeding stock for ages. If you’re feeding stock, it costs money.”

Murray–Darling Basin Authority communique, October 2023

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) met on 11 October in person on Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) ... Having returned from a 4-day listening tour of the lower Murray across South Australia and Victoria, Sir Angus shared reflections from farmers, local governments, First Nations, and communities impacted by the 2022 and 2023 floods who now face the prospect of hot and drying conditions.

Community plans to bolster regional drought resilience: Watt, Spence

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt and Victorian Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence announced the Drought Resilience Plans for the Gippsland, Goulburn and Wimmera Southern Mallee regions have been finalised. These are the first of nine regional communities across the state to develop community-led Regional Drought Resilience Plans through the Future Drought Fund’s Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program, jointly funded by the Albanese and Allan Governments.

When next drought hits … farmers left high and dry

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) says claims by Federal Water Minister Tanya Plibersek that Basin farmers are thriving under a decade of water buybacks is untrue, and the reality is farmers are fearing the next big dry ... “The truth is her own Department website produces a summary table of all recoveries and it clearly states 12.2GL has been recovered with a further 13.8GL under contract. That's a total of 26GL towards the 450GL, not the 2GL she keeps suggesting”: VFF Water Council chairperson Andrew Leahy.

Emergency drinking water requests from Australian farmers up 250 per cent: Rural Aid

Rural Aid has been delivering water tank refills to registered primary producing families for a number of years ... Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said dry times have hit early and hit hard. “Farmers around the country have been unsettled by how quickly the rain ‘tap’ has been turned off,” Mr Warlters said ... Victorian dairy farmer Mark Laity said the water tank he received from Rural Aid was a huge boost.

Drought of time to end the drought-funding drip

What would focus the minds of farmers to be more drought resilient is if the State and Federal governments come out together and simply say to all Australia's farmers that 'you are on your own, we are no longer handing out grants when the rains fail'  ... If they are going to continue with the Drought Fund, then they should focus on funding some big game-changing projects, not the rats and mice ones that won’t move the dial.

Dust storms may be on the horizon

Dust storms pose a significant threat to the environment, public health and the economy ... In this article, we will delve into research insights from our scientists, discussing the impact of dust storms, the importance of land management practices, and measures that can be taken to prepare for these natural phenomena.

Drought-resilient shrub goes east to support farmers in dry times: CSIRO

Sheep and cattle farmers are planting hundreds of thousands of an elite variety of Oldman Saltbush across Australia’s southeast this winter to supplement feed during dryer conditions heralded by a potential El Nino. Anameka Saltbush is a specially selected variety of the drought-tolerant native shrub, developed over 15 years by CSIRO.

Study reveals rainfall and bushfires are major concerns

Information that is relevant, accessible and trusted is critical to those farmers seeking to adapt their agricultural businesses to changes in climate according to a study which examined the results of surveys taken by the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) while working with approximately 1800 land managers in the region during the past four years ... A significant majority of the land managers surveyed (88%) believed the local climate and weather patterns in north east Victoria had changed.

Gina Rinehart announced as Rural Aid patron

“Having grown up on stations which I loved very much, stations and farms have and always will be close to my heart. Rural Aid is an organisation that ‘stands with our mates in the bush’ during their hard times, and it does get tough in the bush, with floods, fires and severe drought, in addition to the usual dangers of snakes, spiders and in some northern areas, crocodiles too,” Mrs Rinehart said.

Resilience ignited at BCG event, Swan Hill

Igniting Resilience, hosted by BCG at the Lower Mallee Inn at Swan Hill recently, lived up to its name. Young farmers and agribusiness professionals heard from guest speakers The Unbreakable Farmer Warren Davies, farmers Simone Murdoch (Swan Hill), Jarrod Kemp (Nullawil) and Will Simpson (Berriwillock), who shared how they navigate the challenges of life and farming. 

Upgrade works at Leslie Dam complete

Part of the Queensland Government's $19 million Southern Downs Drought Resilience program included upgrade works to the intake pump station at Leslie Dam. Water Minister Glenn Butcher said the upgrade work includes replacement of three 55-year-old pumps, pipework and the electrical switchboard.

Think fire, know fire: Roger Underwood

I have recently re-read Think Trees, Grow Trees, a 1985 publication from the Institute of Foresters of Australia. This excellent little book was the brainchild of, and was edited by Dr Wilf Crane, one of my contemporaries at the Australian Forestry School, a notable forest scientist and famous and eccentric character ... To me, the most important part of the book (in terms of contemporary relevance) is the chapter called Living with Fire. It is written by Phil Cheney.

Albanese and King – throwing rural communities down the drain – literally

For rural and regional communities, especially those crying out for dams for flood and drought mitigation for decades, Budget Paper Number 2 from the Commonwealth 2022-2023 Budget makes depressing reading.

Dam or be damned!: Bev McArthur

The East coast of the island is swollen with water – the bulging rivers purging to sea, or finding relief beyond their banks, the waters spewing and sprawling across paddocks and swirling down streets. The anxiety of sandbagging in the race to beat mother nature is real. The threat of the unknown is immense. The realisation of the brutal damage done: heartbreaking. If only we’d built more dams. Damn.

Walcha one step closer to improved water security: Anderson

A new 300 megalitre off-stream storage dam at Walcha will provide greater water security and reliability for residents and businesses and to help drought-proof the town’s water supply ... The new 300 megalitre off-creek storage dam is being built on a small tributary of the MacDonald River, 16 kilometres from the existing water treatment infrastructure.

Drought proofing the central west: NSW Gov’t

The NSW Government is investing $22 million to make the Parkes/Peak Hill Water Supply Project a reality and to help future proof the region’s water supply ... the $61.7 million major infrastructure project will strengthen water security for the shire and bolster the region’s drought resilience by creating a new raw water supply network for residents and businesses.: Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole

Resilience Leadership Program

Kirstin Nicholson. Leitchville’s Matthew Hawken is part of a new program designed to strengthen the future of regional communities through capacity building and collaboration. The Drought Resilience Leaders Development Program is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund offered in 12 regions around Australia. The Mallee region program includes 25 people working in agriculture, financial service providers, irrigators and self-employed business consultants.

Wildlife monitoring shows species springing back after Black Summer

Small native mammals including bandicoots, antechinus and Bush Rats are showing remarkable recovery two years on from the Black Summer fires, long-term camera monitoring in State forests south of Eden shows. Forestry Corporation of NSW Senior Field Ecologist Rohan Bilney said Forestry Corporation of NSW has been monitoring wildlife at 40 sites in State forests south of Eden since 2007 as part of the Southern Brown Bandicoot Species Management Plan, and every monitoring site was impacted by fires in 2019-20. 

Science says thinned forests are healthy forests: USDA Forest Service

Overgrown forests are one of the key contributing factors to the current wildfire crisis in the West. The new Forest Service strategy on Confronting the Wildfire Crisis outlines the agency’s plan for increasing fuels and forest health treatments to create healthier forests and reduce the risk to communities.

Can carbon farming help break a drought?

Charles Sturt University is running a survey for landholders to share their experience of carbon farming and drought planning. The insights from this research will be used to inform a formal guideline for carbon farming participants to help them plan and include drought resilience into the design of their carbon farming project.

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