Queensland producers to benefit from new drought mitigation centre

WITH more than 66 per cent of Queensland still drought declared, the official launch this week of the Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre (QMDC) is welcome news for local farmers.
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(L-R) Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development Bill Byrne, Richard Routley from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Professor Steven Raine, Executive Director of USQ’s Institute for Agriculture and the Environment. Photo courtesy USQ Photography.

 

David Cussons

The event in Toowoomba comes after the 2017/18 Queensland State Budget confirmed funding for the centre for the next five years.

The new research facility, a collaboration between the Palaszczuk Government and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), aims to help producers increase their resilience to drought and climate risks.

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Rural Economic Development, Bill Byrne, who officially launched the centre, said it’s 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.”

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 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.

USQ’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Verbyla said it represents 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.”

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.