Farm Tender

Predictably unpredictable

Extracted from the Farm Tender weekly Newsletter - Sign up and get the email every Wednesday morning before 6 am.

By Dwain Duxson

Autumn is a frustrating time of the year for Farmers. Why? Because it's so unpredictable. It teases you like no other season. 


No drama though, it's typical, and Farmers take it in their stride. They have to. And some see the unpredictability as an opportunity.


If our climate has changed, we have to be thinking like an opportunity Farmer. We all should be thinking like Walgett (NSW) Farmers. They will only ever sow a Crop if there is moisture. No stored moisture, no Crop, just wait until there is. 


When the rains come for Croppers, they think about storing moisture first and foremost. Similar for Livestock Farmers, when they grow Grass, they have to utilise it to their advantage to make the best possible margin in the shortest period of time. 


That's probably the trading model. Breeding is different and requires a different approach. I read Nigel Kerin's article in Sheep Central. At his property in Central NSW, he says that his climate has become increasingly variable since 1990, and he has had to manage his business around that. 


"All I know is my climate has changed," Mr Kerin said."A lot of what we do now as a business is based around fitting in with climate change."


The increased variability their rainfall records show is not just in the form of more drier years, but importantly, more wetter years as well. In their 650mm annual rainfall area, the Bureau of Meteorology categorises 900-1000mm of rain in a single year as a "one-in-50 year event". However, these "one-in-50-year events" have happened three times in the past 10 years on their family property at Yeoval, Nigel says. 


This is a new-age approach that many Farmers in marginal areas have had to adopt since day dot. 


We are seeing a lot more of this approach through what our Farm Tender customers buy and sell. There has been a run on Grain Seed recently, as Farmers adjust their programs to suit, say the dry Autumn that has occurred in SA and Vic or the early break in WA. It's fascinating to watch. 


Decisions, decisions. Farming is about making decisions. Nothing has ever been predictable in Farming but gone are the days where we just push repeat, year after year. Our management plans have to be adapted all the time. 

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