Soaking leads into radar discussions
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.