Soak­ing leads into radar dis­cus­sions

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Heavy rain at the week­end has pro­vided a timely re­minder about the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits a new Dop­pler radar sta­tion will pro­vide for the Wim­mera-mallee.

A broad rain band dumped be­tween 15 and 35 mil­lime­tres across much of the re­gion at the week­end.

The soak­ing, pro­vid­ing a ma­jor boost to emerg­ing broad­acre crops and upset­ting Satur­day sport­ing pur­suits, re­newed spec­u­la­tion about what ac­cu­rate real-time weather in­for­ma­tion would mean for farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties and emer­gency ser­vices.

Plan­ning and con­struc­tion of the new Dop­pler sta­tion at Rain­bow, de­signed

to elim­i­nate a fore­cast­ing black spot be­tween Mt Gam­bier and Mil­dura, is un­der­way.

Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee com­mu­ni­ties will gain insight into project de­tails and what it means for western Vic­to­ria at a fo­rum at Rain­bow Bowl­ing Club to­mor­row.

Vic­to­rian Agricultur­e Min­is­ter Ja­clyn Symes will be at the fo­rum, which will in­clude pre­sen­ta­tions from Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy state man­ager An­drew Tup­per and Agricultur­e Vic­to­ria Sea­sonal Risk Agron­o­mist Dale Grey.

Dr Tup­per will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the new radar and how Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy fore­cast­ers will use the data it col­lects. “This project has been the re­sult of great co-op­er­a­tion be­tween the lo­cal com­mu­nity, Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, Agricultur­e Vic­to­ria and the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy,” he said.

“This is an im­por­tant project for the re­gion’s pri­mary pro­duc­ers who de­pend so much on ac­cu­rate rain­fall fore­casts.

“The data avail­able through the radar will help grow­ers make in­formed choices about harvesting, tillage and the use of chem­i­cals and fer­tilis­ers.

“It will also pro­vide crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion for emer­gency ser­vices.”

Mr Grey will fol­low Dr Tup­per’s pre­sen­ta­tion with an update on what the cli­mate mod­els are pre­dict­ing for the rest of win­ter and spring.

He will also pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on how to in­ter­pret cli­mate mod­els and weather data and how this in­for­ma­tion is best used when mak­ing on-farm de­ci­sions.

Con­struc­tion of the state-of-the-art Ger­man-built Dop­pler sta­tion, which will stand 30 me­tres high and ap­pear sim­i­lar to a gi­ant golf ball, is sched­uled for com­ple­tion by April next year and rep­re­sents the re­al­i­sa­tion of a project span­ning more than a decade. It has an official life span of 15 years but ex­pec­ta­tions are that au­thor­i­ties will use in­for­ma­tion it col­lects for decades.

A Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion 2015 busi­ness case es­ti­mated farmer ef­fi­cien­cies gained through real-time weather in­for­ma­tion would equate to an an­nual $3.5-mil­lion ben­e­fit to the re­gion’s $1.6-bil­lion food-pro­duc­tion in­dus­try.

In 2016 the State Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $5-mil­lion to cover the project’s cap­i­tal costs and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment $3.2-mil­lion for com­mis­sion and an­nual op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance costs.

Fo­rum or­gan­is­ers have in­vited the gen­eral com­mu­nity to to­mor­row’s event and guar­an­teed op­por­tu­ni­ties to ask ques­tions.

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