Agricultural production in Queensland is subject to volatile weather and climatic conditions, so it’s not a matter of if but when farmers will be cursing the weather. The latest events serve to reiterate the need for improved weather infrastructure across the state. In recent years the Western Australian and NSW governments have invested in infrastructure to capture locally specific weather and climate data to aid on farm decision making. Following the success of these investment projects, NSW and Victorian are in line to receive new doppler radars in key farming districts.
The installation of Doppler radar coverage throughout the Western Australian Wheatbelt has directly benefited farm decision making and profitability; from reductions in downgraded wheat, lower crop and sheep losses, and reduced chemical application and spray drift. After only a few years in operation, it is estimated that the benefits flowing to the state’s wheatbelt are worth about $3.4 million a year. The increased data captured has also improved forecasting accuracy by about 5 per cent.
Much of Queensland’s prime agricultural areas do not have radar or weather stations. Similar investment is needed to erect Doppler radar weather stations across these areas, particularly in regions with limited coverage, to improve the granularity of available data across the state.
With Queensland the most disaster impacted state in Australia and climate projections suggesting more frequent extreme weather events, Doppler radar technology could play a role in providing near real-time critical information. Benefits would flow to non-farming activities such as the environment, and importantly, the new information would help the Bureau to make more accurate predictions – something farmers’ livelihoods often depend upon.
For years, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation has been calling for greater investment in weather infrastructure to enable better preparedness, resilience, options, decision making and profitability for our sector. The economics from interstate examples demonstrates this is a sound investment. Doppler is on our radar and it should also be on the Queensland and Australian governments’.