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Drought Module

Destocking drought module for improved versatility of pasture outlooks

Farming Forecaster Logo

Modelling upgrades are set to improve graziers preparedness for periods of poor pasture growth, especially during drought. Thanks to Climate Smart Pilots a drought destocking module has added capacity to the pasture predictions within Farming Forecaster.

Launched in 2020 Farming Forecaster is a successful decision support tool that helps producers assess current seasonal conditions and the likely range in pasture availability and livestock performance during the next 3-4 months. It combines environmental monitoring (soil and weather stations) with scientifically based predictive models into a user-friendly interface. Providing weekly updates on pasture and livestock conditions it gives producers insights into how changes in weather have flow on effects on soil moisture and pasture growth.

Over the years, grazing producers have recognised the advantages of using containment feeding or drought lots to destock and completely rest paddocks during periods of poor pasture growth such as drought. Benefits include improved pasture recovery, faster response to rainfall, maintained ground cover, protected topsoil, as well as improved stock management and improved mental health of producers. However, existing modelling tools do not account for destocking, which makes calculation and comparison with standard management practices difficult. The destocking drought module aims to remedy this.

Drought Lot Graphs

The destocking drought module adds an effective tool in critical and timely decision making to Farming Forecaster. Delivering forecasts of how drought lots might affect pasture availability and ground cover the tool now assists producers in making informed decisions early. This is particularly valuable in time critical periods leading into drought and when emerging from drought. Its addition will help producers build resilient ecosystems, recover quicker from drought and improve long term profitability.

Training and resources will be made available on how the module improves Farming Forecaster with its use of scientific data to compare pasture outlooks and understand consequences on ground cover and pasture availability.

Example of sheep using a drought lot

Climate Smart Pilots is a program within the Primary Industries Climate Change Research Strategy funded by the NSW Climate Change Fund.