Preparing for drought rather than responding to it is the focus of a new Australian Government strategy to build farm and community resilience.
Healthy Land and Water has been tasked with rolling out a proactive new program to South East Queensland landholders. It is part of targeted new funding for drought under the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Natural Resources Management Drought Resilience Program – Landscapes Project.
Drought affects the productivity, profitability and wellbeing of the communities who rely on the rural sector, as well as significantly impacting on the environment.
The funding in this program is being channeled into building the capacity of Australian farmers so they can successfully manage drought and its consequences. By extension this will help bolster their ability to continue to be successful business operators, contribute to strong rural communities, and maintain a competitive advantage in the global market.
This program will support producers who have been struggling with drought by sharing the latest on planning, practices and technologies to build resilience, maximise efficiency and build in environmental and economic buffers.
Building adaptability and capacity to be drought ready
The financial strain on landholders during prolonged drought can make it particularly difficult to maintain optimal land management practices.
Through the Drought Resilient Landscapes project, farmers will be assisted to develop plans that incorporate learnings and adaptation strategies to manage drought risks and accelerate adoption of best management practices which improve soil health, water use efficiency and pasture and land condition in South East Queensland.
The project also supports the establishment of local on-farm trials, which will be used to promote the benefits of practices and tools which help build drought resilience, at future field days. The demonstration sites which include the use of multi-species cover crops, recycled organics and manures and soil moisture monitoring technology across dairy, beef and cropping enterprises, will be featured in local case studies.
In addition to the innovative demonstration trials, a series of drought and climate adaptation workshops will provide climate information and tools and support for farmers to develop risk management and adaptation strategies and plans to manage the impacts of climate change on their natural resources, production systems and businesses.
The collaboration with industry and Government partners is expected to amplify the impact of the program. The regionally focused program will build on existing relationships between Healthy Land and Water and peak farming groups, State agencies, producers and consultants including Growcom, Queensland Dairy farmers Organisation, Subtropical Dairy, Agforce, Queensland Farmers’ Federation and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
More information about the program
The 2018 National Drought Agreement focused support by federal, state and territory governments on incentives that help the agriculture sector and communities better prepare in order to successfully manage drought and its consequences.
This continues the policy direction established five years ago when government moved from responding to drought or exceptional circumstances to a supporting preparation. This is an ongoing approach to refine policies, programs, projects to ensure that the landholders ultimately have the capacity to change and adapt to a more sustainable land management practices to minimize the impact of drought and a changing climate.
The Federal government strategy vision is based around “to have farm business and rural communities that are prepared for and capable of managing drought, in pursuit of a prosperous and sustainable future”.
The Australian Government’s vision is based around six foundations that underpin successful drought management.
Drought is enduring- it’s a regular feature of the Australian landscape and not a natural disaster.
Drought conditions are more likely to become more frequent, severe and longer due to climate change.
Farming is a business and drought is one of the many business risks.
Drought preparation must continue during times of no drought.
Policies and programs should focus on planning and preparation and be developed with industry and communities.
Information, social, economic and environmental about drought conditions and impacts should be collected and understood at the local level so that governments, communities, business and farmers can tailor their preparation, plan and responses.