The drought of 2006 to 2008 was a real paradigm shifter for Tasmanian farmers. Our experience of drought since the 1950s in this State told us that it would last for 12 to 18 months, and we as farmers made decisions accordingly. Water supplies, fodder shortages, crops grown and even the type of animals run and the balance of breeding stock to readily saleable livestock were all governed by what had happened during the past.
But this drought set new records for both duration and low rainfall, with most areas affected for up to five years and experiencing 250 mm (10 inches) less rainfall per year than the long-term annual average. The tried and true plans we had previously were no longer sufficient to cope with the new reality. This had a marked result on whole communities. People started to focus inward, social events ceased, and there was an air of desperation.
Brett & Ruth Hall – ‘Montlea’, Oatlands
In Victoria and Tasmania researchers predict the frequency and spread of exceptionally hot and exceptionally dry years are likely to increase.
By 2010–2040, exceptionally low rainfall years are likely to affect about 10% of the region and occur about once every 12 years on average. By 2030, exceptionally low soil moisture years are likely to affect about 11% of the region and occur about once every nine years on average.
*Source: Hennessy et al (2008) Drought Exceptional Circumstances — An assessment of the impact of climate change on the nature and frequency of exceptional climatic events, CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology
An audit of existing water resources including dams and direct takes, bores, irrigation schemes and water reuse systems combined with a detailed overview of current water usage is the first step. During drought stock require more water as their feed is generally more brous and their tolerance to low water quality may be reduced as they become weaker.
Water quality can be significantly affected in times of drought and drought recovery. This is due to many factors including reduced ground cover, erosion, evaporation causing concentrations of salts, groundwater in uences, and/or the use of alternative sources.
Make sure you monitor farm water quantity and quality during drought.
*Source: Drought facing the challenge and managing the risk – an initiative of NRM South and NRM North and funded by Woolworths and Landcare Australia
Whether you are in a drought affected area or not, managing your water supply is a crucial part of farming now and into the future. Doing this in a cost effective and time efficient manner is getting easier thanks to systems like the TankSentry by Odyssey Sensors.
The TankSentry is a remote water management system that feeds real time data to your home computer, tablet or smartphone, logging your water levels and providing alerts when your water is either too low or overflowing.
Utilising state of the art LoRa Technology that is not reliant on internet access across your farm, the TankSentry will be able to inform you where your trouble spots are and when you need to look at them saving you on time, water wastage and worry.
The gateways have a transmission distance of up to 25km with a repeater function that can extend the transmission distance in multiples of a further 25km radius (not line of sight), offering private and secure data transfers with the capability of supporting up to 1,000 sensors per gateway.