After two years of consecutive drought for the Doering family, who farm from Truro through to Neales Flat, this season has them standing on a cliff edge, Paul Doering says.
Since April, the rain gauge has only just tipped over 55 millimetres at Neales Flat and on the wetter country at St Kitts it has only reached half of its average rainfall for the same three-month period.
Cropping about 6500 hectares, Paul and his brother Michael have cut out 240ha of their rotation.
They have compared this season to 1982, when the state was battling through one its worst droughts seen by farmers of that generation.
“Last year was as bad as the 1982 drought and this year is shaping up the same,” Michael said.
“We have very varied crop germination and our crops at Sutherlands have been abandoned, pretty much,” he said.
The damaging wind that spread across the state recently has also caused concern about vital topsoil loss.
“It has swept the dry cover straight off so when we do get rain, we won’t have the cover to help stimulate the growth,” Paul said.
The Doerings also run 7000 ewes and 120 stud cows and to keep livestock in forward condition, only two of eight oaten hay paddocks will be cut for hay this season.
“We culled about 20 per cent of our sheep flock and have put the remaining ewes and cows on hay paddocks,” Michael said.
But Paul said he was also mindful about making emotional decisions in a tough year.
“We are in a very serious situation and pretty much standing on a cliff’s edge, but we are focused on setting up for next year, too,” he said.
“We have a very big bet out there in the soil and if we have a drought it will take at least three years to pick that money back up.”
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