Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

El Niño is on the cards

Dairy farmers are being cautioned to prepare contingency plans for an El Niño climate event this year.

May 20, 2014 3:20am

A green tinge is developing across northern Victoria and the southern Riverina as early planted crops respond well to good autumn rains. This crop was snapped near Invergordon.

El Nino is usually associated with below average rainfall over southern and eastern inland areas of Australia.

About two-thirds of El Nino events since 1900 have resulted in major drought levels over large parts of the continent.

The Bureau of Meteorology has given a 70 per cent chance of an El Nino developing over winter, with climate models suggesting this may occur by July.

For many farmers in Queensland and NSW this is already a reality as they manage drought conditions and fodder shortages.

Dairy Australia’s issues management manager Julie Iommi said while El Nino could not be guaranteed farmers should be vigilant and put some planning in place.

‘‘Farmers need to be aware that the chances of El Nino occurring are rising and that from the current forecast it is likely farmers may again face drier than average winter and spring conditions across southern and central regions of the country,’’ she said.

‘‘It would be advisable for farmers to start thinking about what planning they need to put in place if feed becomes less available, what alternative feed could fill a shortfall in their regions and how this might affect their operations in the longer term.’’

Ms Iommi said although the outlook might be dry, Australia might also still be vulnerable to extreme storms, flash flooding, power outages and cyclones.

Material is available on the Dairy Australia website to help farmers start feed budgeting now so they have options for different scenarios later in the year.

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