Reviving rain eases drought

Reviving rain eases drought

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AFTER two consecutive years with less than 150 millimetres of rain, last week's falls across the state helped fill most of Robertstown grazier John Michalk's dams, many of which had dried up more than a year ago.

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AFTER two consecutive years with less than 150 millimetres of rain, last week's falls across the state helped fill most of Robertstown grazier John Michalk's dams, many of which had dried up more than a year ago.

Mr Michalk received 25mm last week, after about 33mm fell in January.

"We have about 20 dams and most have at least some water, but our main dams which had run dry were pretty full," he said.

"We desperately needed the rain to fill some dams but we need a lot more to restore ground cover."

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Until last year, Mr Michalk ran about 3000 Merino ewes across 2500 hectares between Sutherlands and Point Pass, but because the dry conditions continued, he destocked to 1000 ewes.

"We kept holding on thinking it would rain but we definitely hung on too long. I had to sell a lot of my good sheep," Mr Michalk said.

"It helped put money back in the bank but I also do not have my best stock to breed from because I had to sell them," he said.

Mr Michalk also said if follow-up rain arrived in the coming months he would destock even further.

"I need to breed from the best sheep I can to rebuild the flock and utilise pastures," he said.

The highest SA rainfall recorded in the past week was in the North West pastoral area at Yudnapinna, which received 105mm, but falls varied across the North East pastoral area, with Phitzners Well having 103mm and Yunta just 9mm.

Hawker received about 47mm and Orroroo 57mm, while Port Augusta had 81mm and Crystal Brook 61mm.

Pastoral Board member Colin Greenfield, Billa Kalina Station, said those that received rain were overjoyed as it "eased the pain" for many pastoralists, and even broke the drought for some.

"If dams are full and creeks are flowing, then the drought is pretty much over," he said.

"We do not need a huge amount of rainfall to get a good season so this will do a lot for us this year - we only need a couple more falls in the next six months and it will be a very good year."

But Mr Greenfield said pastoralists were faced with a "big task" to rebuild while the nation's livestock numbers were at an all time low.

Most of the Lower North received between 25-45mm, while the Eyre Peninsula had varied falls, with Port Lincoln receiving more than 100mm, which caused widespread flooding.

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