A survey of farmers' attitudes, management strategies and use of weather and seasonal climate forecasts for coping with climate variability in the perennial pasture zone of south-east Australia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A survey of 62 producers in the perennial pasture zone of south-eastern Australia was undertaken to gain an understanding of farmer attitudes toward climate variability, the use of weather and seasonal climate forecasts on farms and how climatic variability affects farm management. The 3 localities surveyed were Hamilton and surrounding districts in south-western Victoria, Lucindale and Naracoorte districts of south-eastern South Australia, and Campbell Town, Ross and Bothwell districts of North Central and upper Derwent Valley regions of Tasmania. Farmers in all districts considered winter rainfall to be the most reliable in terms of consistency, while autumn rainfall was the least reliable but had the greatest impact on production. Perceptions of seasonal rainfall variability and its impact were influenced by stocking rates; farmers with more heavily stocked properties considered rainfall in the growing season to be less reliable than did farmers with lower stocking rates and that autumn and winter rainfall had a greater impact on production. All farmers had strategies to manage their grazing enterprises in response to the prevailing season’s climate conditions, but not all available strategies were used. All participants fed supplements in poorer seasons while Tasmanian farmers tended to reduce stock numbers more in poorer seasons than did Victorian farmers. All the farmers used short-term weather forecasts to help make decisions about farm management, with 100% of farmers in all 3 states using radio and television forecasts and sheep graziers’ warnings. However, farmers felt that many other forecasts were unreliable and they were often were unwilling to incorporate them into decision making. Less than 50% of farmers had read or heard about the 3-month seasonal climate outlook and they were not willing to base management decisions on these outlooks. The uptake of information technology and the use of the Internet amongst farmers in the perennial pasture zone have increased rapidly, with an average of 76% of farmers using a computer and 30% connected to the Internet. Computers were mainly used for financial and farm management, while the Internet was mainly used for farm information. The education level attained by the farmer was the main factor that influenced the uptake and use of information technology.

authors

publication date

  • 2002