RIVERLAND producers could benefit from state-of-the-art localised automatic weather stations, which could provide key data for making decisions.
The state government has announced it will contribute a $1.2 million grant from its Regional Growth Fund to Ag Excellence Alliance.
The weather stations will provide local producers with key data to help with decision making about extreme weather events and to inform the safe use of agricultural chemicals and to protect crops from unintended spray drift.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the weather stations would work together as a network across the region, also linking with the Mid North mesonet weather stations.
"We're proud to support this initiative of Ag Excellence Alliance to give producers essential, accurate weather data and warning systems to help manage for drought, potential extreme weather events and conditions likely to result in spray drift," he said.
"These automated weather stations will inform decisions to protect our Riverland wine grape and horticultural growers from spray drift, reducing the risk of damaged fruit and vegetables from agricultural chemicals.
"Estimates put on the potential loss in value of production from spray drift in the Riverland and Mallee areas if not addressed are in the order of $254 million per annum.
"The automated weather stations fill an essential gap for producers - there are no other systems out there that can provide the quality of data this weather station network will provide.
"The project will create jobs through the construction phase and ongoing maintenance."
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Ag Excellence Alliance chief executive Mark Stanley said the automatic weather station network would deliver a weather monitoring and warning system, which would provide highly accurate and targeted data on the development and presence of adverse conditions for spraying.
"The occurrence of crop damage resulting from spray drift has been an issue in the Riverland region for many years," he said.
"There is considerable anxiety in the viticultural, wine and fresh fruit and vegetable industries about crop damage and product contamination.
"The project will establish a state-of-the-art localised automatic weather station network across the Riverland and Mallee to link with the Mid North Mesonet."
The project will be managed by Ag Excellence Alliance in association with Mallee Sustainable Farming, Grace Research, Agrilink and Peter Cousins Consulting.
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