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South East producers harnessing data to make decisions

South East Local Land Services, in partnership with the Tablelands Farming System, Monaro Farming System and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, is harnessing the power of data to help land managers and producers make more informed decisions on their properties.

The data, made available by a network of 14 soil moisture probes located across the southern tablelands and Monaro, can now be readily accessed using the recently launched website.

“The new website is a great tool for land managers as it provides a valuable insight into what’s going on under our feet. The probes are telling us that soil moisture in the higher country around Bannister, Crookwell and Laggan is still hanging in there. These areas have received a bit more rain and will hang on longer due to higher elevation.

However, soil moisture drops off sharply once you come down in elevation and is quickly becoming a major issue” said Matt Lieschke, South East Local Land Services Senior Agriculture Advisor.

To help guide decision making, seasonal outlook reports are also being produced each autumn and spring. These reports provide in-depth analysis on future pasture availability at each of the 14 moisture probe locations.

“Despite the strong start to the growing season, Lake Bathurst and Braidwood have been hit the hardest by the dry winter. For these sites, pasture availability at the start of spring was well below the long-term average, sitting around the 25 percentile.

The modelling indicates that this is unlikely to change in the coming months without significant rainfall. The lack of feed in these areas is likely to force some changes to normal management. For sheep producers this will involve turning lambs off earlier at lighter weights or putting them on to grain” Matt said.

While areas like Bannister, Taralga and Laggan are heading for a below average spring, better soil moisture means that changes to normal spring decisions are less likely.

“These areas have a bit more breathing space at present compared to the sites at Gunning, Wheeo and Bigga. Bigga is looking to be the tightest out of these areas.

“The effects of a tight spring tend to be felt more so in summer as paddocks run out of standing feed early and supplementary feeding kicks in. Low dam water levels heading into summer is the other issue that a number of producers are concerned about”.

With current conditions and question marks around this year’s grain harvest, producers are encouraged to plan ahead to avoid being caught out.

“The Drought Feed Calculator is a great tool that helps producers calculate the amount of grain or fodder needed to feed stock for a certain period of time,” Matt said. The tool is freely available and can be downloaded via your smart device’s App portal.

The Spring Outlook report can be downloaded by going to the website and clicking on “Seasonal Reports”. To find out more information about the collection of the data, how to use it or any other questions related to livestock or pasture management, contact your nearest Local Land Services office.

ENDS

Media contact: Matt Lieschke, South East Local Land Services, 0428 271 127