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3.3 State Agro-climatic Services

In addition to the above, the extension and advisory services of the various State Departments of Agriculture and Primary Industries provide advice, backed up by ongoing scientific research, to assist producers manage their properties and farm businesses whilst exposed to a variable climate and various forms of risk. There are also a number of private agricultural, environmental and natural resource management consultants who are skilled in advising on how to cope with year to year variability in climate, production and product prices. Many of these are registered with the Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants (AAAC), a section of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology.

3.3.1 NSW Agriculture

NSW Agriculture is providing climate services for the producers throughout the State. The services are in the process of further expansion and strengthening. Two types of service have been trialled by the Department for 18 months - a seasonal rainfall outlook and a weekly agronomical advisory. Seasonal rainfall maps and outlook for the next three months are important components of the Regional Review, a monthly update of seasonal conditions and outlook for agriculture in New South Wales. Farmers and other users can look at climate information on the Department's external web site in the Regional Review, accessible at http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/climate/rr/current/

Rainfall maps

Each month the Resource Information Unit downloads rainfall maps for the ongoing season from the Bureau of Meteorology web site and converts these to a more readable format. Coloured maps are used in the written version of the report and on the Department's web site, and black and white versions are faxed to department offices and other interested parties.

Rainfall Outlook

A monthly rainfall outlook for the next three months is prepared on the basis of data, maps, and information obtained from various national and international sources. These include global maps of sea surface temperature, wind and temperature anomalies, El Niņo outlook, and various GCM outputs available on various web sites. A regular flow of data pertaining to daily, 30 and 90 day averages of SOI is maintained to keep a track of status and trends in the SOI and to interpret these in terms of their likely impact on rainfall in the State. The Bureau of Meteorology prepares an outlook of rainfall for Australia on the basis of sea surface temperatures; QDPI also bases its outlooks on the phases of the SOI. Several United States climate agencies also prepare rainfall outlooks for various regions of the world, including Australia. Information from this wide spectrum of sources is extracted, integrated and interpreted and an outlook for rainfall in NSW is prepared.

Weekly Agronomy Advisory

Weekly services to producers have been provided on a trial basis in collaboration with the Special Services Unit of the Bureau of Meteorology. Agronomy comments/advisory was a component of the Farmweather fax service for the north central grain belt of NSW known as the 'Stock and Grain' region. District Agronomists of the region were provided a weather forecast information for the region by the Bureau of Meteorology through fax. In turn, District Agronomists faxed back agronomy comments and advice for the farmers, which they prepared taking account of the forecast information that they had received from the Bureau. The Special Services Unit of BoM attached the agronomy advisory with weather forecast information for the region and faxed to the clients. This service is currently under review.

Contact: Dr Harpal Mavi; ph (02) 6391 3637; fax (02) 6369 3767; harpal.mavi@agric.nsw.gov.au

3.3.2 Queensland Departments of Primary Industries and Natural Resources

The Queensland Centre for Climate Applications (QCCA), based at Toowoomba and Indooroopilly, has a major extension component backed up by climate applications research and development and extension being undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries and the Department of Natural Resources.

The service includes provision of climatological advice by its own climatologist, Dr Roger Stone. This is distributed through the media, extension officers, the Managing for Climate PMP workshops, phone and fax hotlines and the Long Paddock World Wide Web site at http://www.dnr.qld.gov.au/longpdk. A range of software for assisting managers cope with a variable climate, including RAINMAN, WHEATMAN and GRAZEON, have been produced. Publications include the book Will It Rain? Current work includes building on existing products and services such as the Long Paddock Internet site, and the phone and fax SOI hotlines.

Contacts and Institutions

Mr Colin Paull, Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Qld 4068; Ph: (07) 3896 9587; Fax: (07) 3896 9843; Colin.Paull@dnr.qld.gov.au

Dr Harpal S. Mavi, Agroclimatologist, Agricultural Resource Management, New South Wales Agriculture, Locked Bag 21, Orange NSW 2800. Ph: (02) 6391 3637; Fax: (02) 6391 3767; harpal.mavi@smtpgwy.agric.nsw.gov.au

Dr Roger Stone, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 102, Toowoomba, Qld 4350. Ph: (07) 4688 1293; Mobile: 0412 559 408; Fax: (07) 4688 1193; rogers@apsrusg.sth.dpi.qld.gov.au

Ms Mary Voice, Superintendent, National Climate Centre, GPO Box 1289K, Melbourne Vic. 3001. Ph: (03) 9669 4086; Fax: (03) 9669 4515; M.Voice@bom.gov.au

References

1. Anon (1997a). Climate activities in Australia 1997. Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, 173 pp.

2. Crowder, R.B. (1995). The wonders of the weather. Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 270 pp.

3. Paull, C.J. and Peacock, A. (1998). Australian climate/weather services and use of the information. Queensland Department of Primary Industries, GPO Box 46, Brisbane Qld 4001

4. Peacock, I.J. (1994). Will it Rain? The effects of the Southern Oscillation and El Niņo on Australia. Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Information Series QI94015, 2nd edition.

3.4 Specialist Media Services

3.4.1 Weather 21

Weather 21 is a 24-hour television station that provides Austar pay TV subscribers with weather forecast, current weather conditions, and radar and satellite images showing 21 weather patterns. The channel uses data downloaded by computer from the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as weather predictions produced by the Bureau and the station's three meteorologists. Weather 21 is a joint venture between Austar Entertainment and Cox Inall Communications. The station also provides daily details of commodity prices, currency fluctuations and Australian Stock Exchange indices.

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