Queensland producers to benefit from new drought mitigation centre

Published Tuesday, 20 June, 2017 at 10:30 AM

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development
The Honourable Bill Byrne

A new research centre is helping Queensland producers increase their resilience to drought and climate risks, thanks to a collaboration between the Palaszczuk Government and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Rural Economic Development, Bill Byrne said the Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre (QDMC) is already helping Queensland producers better manage increasingly volatile climate events.

“While drought is a part of life in Queensland, it’s one of the biggest challenges faced by our producers which leads to significant economic, environmental and social impacts,” the Minister said.

“No group is affected by changes to our climate more than producers. They are on the front line and that is why this initiative is a major advance for our food and fibre sector.

“The ultimate challenge for scientists is to be able to better predict the start and finish of a drought period.

“So to address this challenge, the Palaczszuk Government has partnered with the USQ to form the QDMC which I’m officially launching today,”

Minister Byrne said researchers were analysing historical climate data, including modelling over the past 1000 years, to identify long term patterns or links with climate drivers so producers can prepare more effectively and can become more resilient to droughts.

“Additionally, QDMC is offering support tools to help farm managers use these improved seasonal forecasts in their planning, along with providing advice on climate change projections at regional levels and advising how to adapt to the changing climate,” he said.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with USQ on this vital program as they have internationally recognised research and development expertise in the climate science area.”

The Minister said Queensland experiences some of the most variable rainfall in the world as our recent weather events have shown.

“The past summer alone, our producers had long dry periods, extreme heat events, as well as winds, rainfall and associated flooding from Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

“Only a few months ago a record 87% of Queensland was drought declared.

More than 66% of our state remains drought declared and some for some producers now in their fifth successive year of drought, there is no end in sight to their predicament.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch said the formation of the QDMC was an important step towards providing information to Queensland primary producers to manage their grazing and cropping lands in highly variable and changing climate extremes. 

“By combining USQ expertise and the considerable scientific resources of the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, along with the experience and knowledge of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, we can improve our understanding of droughts and help producers to better prepare for them,” Minister Enoch said.

“Droughts are an inevitable feature of our Queensland climate.

“This comprehensive research program will help us to understand how multi-year drought sequences affect our grazing industry and develop a range of decision support products including remotely sensed data to help producers manage this risk.”

USQ’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Verbyla said this was a fantastic opportunity to advance climate science research.

“USQ is a leader in climate science research, and by partnering with the Queensland Government, we can work together to further improve climate research and forecasting,” Vice-Chancellor Verbyla said.

Minister Byrne said the QDMC was part of the Queensland Government’s new Drought and Climate Adaption Program (DCAP).

“DCAP is bringing together our best climate scientists, cutting-edge research, government and industry leaders to work together through a number of programs and partnerships to improve drought preparedness and resilience for our Queensland producers,” he said.

“Improved seasonal forecasts, regional climate change projections, support tools and training to adapt findings into farm management plans will all benefit the long-term productivity of the agri-business sector and the Queensland economy.

“That’s why the Queensland Government is providing $17.5 million over the next five years to DCAP, plus additional contributions will be made by other partners in the program.

“We’re working hard to support our producers and to ensure the future growth and success of our agri-sector.”

Miles grazier and Murilla Landcare Coordinator Claire York attended a recent DCAP Climate and Weather Workshop at Miles run by the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee.

Mrs York was one of several producers with cropping and grazing operations to attend from the Condamine and Dulacca districts.

“Producers’ management decisions are based, in-part, around weather forecasts and after the workshop, everyone was commenting on how much more confident they felt in their ability to interpret forecasting tools and data. This skill will be invaluable in future management decisions,” Mrs York said.

“This time of year is especially critical to most producers when considering upcoming weather events, so people felt the workshop was a very timely and worthwhile undertaking, the feedback was consistently positive.” 

For a full list of DCAP research, development and extension projects, or for further information, visit www.daf.qld.gov.au or www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au or call the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.

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