Climate champions get the facts

TWO of the region’s farmers have been in Canberra this week participating in high-level climate talks that will influence Australia’s agricultural production into the future.

Boggabri’s Andrew Watson and Bill Yates, from Gurley, have been named as members of the national Climate Champion program, an initiative aiming to help farmers manage climate risk by giving them access to the latest research and how best to use it in their business.

The program also gives climate researchers a chance to interact with farmers for feedback on what they need from the increasingly sophisticated data. 

Mr Watson and Mr Yates are among 20 farmers who met with key researchers, government, university and industry representatives on how to manage Australia’s increasingly variable climate.

Mr Yates, a grain and lamb producer, said his feedback would include how much advance warning they needed from forecasts to improve their farming decisions. 

“We’re lucky forecasts have increased in accuracy. The 10-day forecast is now as accurate as the seven-day forecast was a decade ago,” he said. 

“But in our neck of the woods, there’s already very strong evidence of warming, so we need good lead times on the weather events that are going to affect our operations.”

Simon Winter, science manager for the federal Managing Climate Variability program, said understanding the increasingly climate variability was key to maximising returns on production.

“These face-to-face meetings are an essential step for researchers to engage with farmers so they better understand how producers can use research results and how that information should be packaged,” he said.

“It’s an ongoing challenge for research and development to keep a handle on what the actual needs of farmers are, in terms of research outcomes.”

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