Monday, July 02, 2007

Stop ya whinging...


Farmers miss out on rain

FARMERS in WA's drought-stricken wheatbelt region have received only scattered rain from powerful storms which lashed parts of the state.


Several frontal systems passed through WA's south-west at the weekend and today brought more than 60 millimetres of rain to parts of Perth.


But struggling farmers in the central and northern wheatbelt, including three communities receiving exceptional circumstances funding after six years of drought, have largely missed out.


Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Steve West said those areas received little rain.


"It's been patchy, the falls in general have been between 5mm and 10mm. There are showers off the coast there now so there are a few more millimetres for them," Mr West said this afternoon.


WA Farmers Federation president Trevor De Landgrafft said it was not enough.


"It's unfortunate, they were quite small showers," Mr De Landgrafft said.


"They keep things going, keep the dream alive."


"But most people haven't had any good falls at all to have made an impact on being able to seed some land or getting a germination of land that was seeded."


"The central and northern Wheatbelt are really looking quite dire."

I've had enough, when will these farmers stop bleating about a lack of rain and doing something to try and fix their problems?

The farmers are a victim of their own profession, the very process of creating their farmland is reducing the rainfall they get. In recent years, lots of study has gone into the effects of deforestation. It has been found that deforestation is linked very closely with reduced rainfall [1, 2, 3]. With reduced vegetation less moisture is transpired back to the atmosphere, and with the accompanying increased ground exposure, base cloud levels are driven upward (warmer air) and are less likely to produce rain when they reach areas of increased altitude.

If you go for a drive through the wheatbelt of Western Australia, you can drive tens of kilometres in between seeing sections of native bush. The wheatbelt was once covered with bush that was cleared to make way for the crops. Removal of this much vegetation has got to have an affect on the environment, in particular, the hydrological cycle.

As with rising salt and erosion, I would be pretty confident that (re)planting more trees would help rectify these situations. It won't have an immediate effect, just like clearing the land in the first place didn't have an immediate effect on the climate but it is a start. It may mean the loss of some farmland but isn't that a bit better than losing your whole farmland and livelihood through lack of rain?

Farmers aren't the only ones to blame for this, but they are the ones whinging loudest. Stop your bleating and do something about it...


The Owl said...

I recall reading somewhere that the amount of water required to grow certain crops in Australia is much higher to comparable crops in other countries.

Coupled with the loss of rainfall, perhaps we should consider which crops are best to grow here and which we should simply import.

As nice as the notion of self-sufficiency is, we have to consider the possibility of either importing some produce (which has some environmental cost, too) or simply doing without.

Or stop whinging, as you say, when things don't pan out with the free water we receive.

Craig said...

Getting our produce from elsewhere will only move the problem off shore. I think a worldwide effort into improving farming methods is needed. Of course, some countries won't be in on the idea (a certain large asian nation comes to mind), but the rest of the world can give it a go.