The Bureau of Meteorology last week declared that La Niña has developed in the Pacific Ocean. Typically associated with above-average spring rainfall for Australia, particularly across eastern, central and northern regions, it can also mean cooler days, more tropical cyclones, and an earlier onset of the first rains of the wet season across the north. The last La Niña event occurred from 2010-2012 and resulted in widespread flooding in many parts of Australia associated with the record rainfalls. As eyes look to the skies ahead of storm season, farmers are encouraged to prepare their properties and infrastructure to mitigate any potential impacts of a severe weather event.
To assist with disaster resilience, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation recently completed a disaster resilience project which provided an improved understanding of flood vulnerabilities for specific agriculture industries and farm locations. Working with industry members Growcom and the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, the project developed a flood mapping tool and risk based, on-farm flood management plans that assisted producers in understanding and mitigating the potential impacts of flooding on their properties. For example, a south-east Queensland dairy farm case study identified drainage and watercourse issues but with coordinated floodplain flow management and the installation of riparian vegetation, there is potential to increase the total usable area under irrigation, improve farm trafficability, and reduce both milk and crop losses.
Additionally, an innovative online course is now available to assist farmers across Queensland to develop flood mitigation and resilience management plans for their own properties. With information specific to the horticulture and dairy industries including an introduction to flood mapping, understanding of soil health and nutritional issues and financial and risk management, farmers can prepare for a flood, and alleviate damage to their properties and businesses.
With severe weather events predicted to be more frequent and intense in the future, this project is the beginning of an ongoing and regular discussion that will enable effective flood preparedness outcomes for farmers across the state. Preparation is critical to disaster resilience and will ensure Queensland’s farmers can get back to doing what they do best – producing world class food, fibre and foliage.