Opinion: Drought no match for resilient SA farmers

Opinion: Drought no match for resilient SA farmers

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THE catastrophic fires interstate this week are a timely reminder of the need for bushfire preparedness, particularly as harvest gets back under way.

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Rob and Julie Price, Narridy, had less than half their annual rainfall and still produced sensational-looking Spartacus barley, which made malting grade.

Rob and Julie Price, Narridy, had less than half their annual rainfall and still produced sensational-looking Spartacus barley, which made malting grade.

THE catastrophic fires interstate this week, and those fought on the Yorke Peninsula and at Port Lincoln, are a timely reminder of the need for bushfire preparedness, particularly as harvest gets back under way this week.

The past week, croppers have been urged to familiarise themselves with the Grain Harvesting Code of Practice to reduce the risk of fire in their own backyard, their neighbour's and to their communities.

Header fires are a regular occurrence every harvest and on the wrong day, extremely dangerous. Particularly after one of the driest seasons on record for many farmers.

And while not all crops feature thick fuel loads, our Harvest SA special lift-out in this week's edition highlights that our state's graingrowers have still achieved a lot on very little.

Rob and Julie Price farm at Narridy in the Mid North, where they had less than half their annual rainfall and still produced sensational-looking Spartacus barley, which made malting grade.

In the Mallee, some croppers had a measly 60 millimetres of rain for the growing season. Yet they are harvesting more than just seed.

Not so long ago, there would have been no chance of harvesting a crop on 60mm GSR, particularly with minimal subsoil moisture at seeding.

The lack of moisture at seeding, and insufficient rainfall throughout the year, will leave many areas with "zilch in the tank", according to Mr Price, and will be of concern if the pattern of dry weather continues.

The drier season has been of benefit to some regions of the state, namely Kangaroo Island and the South East, where agronomists are expecting above-average yields.

So it was a little surprising this week to see the federal government award the Tatiara District and KI councils $1 million in drought funding. The mayors of both regions were equally amazed.

The news followed the federal and state government announcing last week it would give 40 gigalitres of River Murray water back to upstream irrigators, in exchange for $10m in drought resilience funding.

Stock Journal has tried extensively in the past week to get more details about how that money will be spent, in the hopes it would be allocated immediately to desperately struggling farmers across our state.

But like them, we are still waiting.

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