Grower Group Alliance

Drought Resilience Priorities

Drought resilience priorities

The SW WA Hub has identified priorities for drought resilience projects (addressing RD&E gaps) following a comprehensive and consultative process.

This process included commissioning situational analyses for each of the hub’s four agro-ecological zones (Southern Rangelands, Mid West & Gascoyne Coastal, Wheatbelt and South West) which identified ‘gaps’ where new opportunities could enhance outcomes in a hotter, drier climate.

Priority topics identified by the analyses were workshopped with the hub’s Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) and topics were ground-truthed with farmers through the hub’s Regional Node Leads.

The priority topics (listed below) are grouped by theme and are ‘living’ lists which may be refined in the light of further information and changing contexts. 

These priorities were last workshopped by the SW WA Hub in July 2023 with RACs and further consultation in August via Regional Node Leads and their networks.

1. Mid West & Gascoyne Coastal

ThemeTheme priorities
Agricultural Practices – Agronomy
  • Forecasting tools and systems to protect cropping systems  
  • Improved summer or over-summering weed management practices 
  • Improved crop varieties that better suit the region’s current and future climate 
  • Best practice water management in horticultural systems 
  • Improved vegetable and priority crop rootstock for drought and salinity tolerance 
  • Effective misting and evaporative cooling systems in protected and outdoor crops 
  • Salt tolerant crop options 
Carbon Footprint
  • Education and support programs addressing carbon neutrality and future sustainability challenges 
  • Improved waste management and recycling techniques 

Water Management

  • Improved water use efficiency using practices from other industries or countries
  • Practices that reduce the risk and impact of salinisation 
  • Best practice flood plain erosion management 
  • Efficient water filtration systems in protected crops
Business Management
  • Upskilling for best practice water management and agronomy 
  • Effective and resilient structures for protected cropping 

2. Southern Rangelands

ThemeTheme priorities
Agricultural Practices – Livestock
  • Infrastructure and cost-effective practices to control stock numbers to aid in the management of total grazing pressure, including controlling pest species such as kangaroos, camels and donkeys
  • Practices that maximise year-round ground cover
  • Forage budgeting methods that utilise visual assessments and/or remote sensing satellite or drone technology data, with calibration against body condition scores across the production year 
  • Practices and technologies (including benchmarking, genetic selection and grazing management) that optimise herd and flock productivity 
  • Grazing management practices that address limiting nutrients to optimise stocking rate and productivity 
  • Adaptive management planning that considers rehydration and total grazing pressure 
  • Genetics that raise reproductive rates and better meet target market specifications in the southern rangelands 

Carbon Footprint 

 

  • Extension activities and carbon metrics development addressing carbon farming, biodiversity certification schemes, natural capital projects and implications for market development and access 
Water Management
  • Evidence-based and cost-effective techniques to improve rainfall infiltration rates  
  • Water management practices for designing and building/maintaining road and track infrastructure and rehydration implications
Business Management
  • Capacity building programs to build capacity in the pastoral industry 
  • Upskilling for best practice work, health and safety 
  • Further development of business management skills and systems analysis 

Digital Agriculture

  • Remote technologies to better monitor and manage livestock and landscape condition to achieve increased efficiencies and improved decision making 
 

3. Wheatbelt

ThemeTheme priorities
Agricultural Practices – Agronomy 
  • Crop and pasture varieties and associated agronomic practices that optimise profitability and productivity in a variable climate 
  • Options that improve moisture retention and germination rates 
  • Appropriate crop or fodder options that suit a more variable climate 
  • Machinery options that promote better water harvesting during dry or variable seasons 
  • Soil amelioration practices that improve water use efficiency, increase water infiltration, conserve water and optimise access to subsoil water 
  • Practices that improve soil health to help build farm resilience in drying climates 
  • Emerging alternate land users and uses that can support sustainable farming systems 
Agricultural Practices – Livestock  
  • Optimise year-round water and feed supplies 
  • Decrease ewe and lamb mortality 
  • Incorporate a genuine farming systems approach to the management of cropping and livestock enterprises

Water Management 

 

  • Planning and practices that optimise farm and catchment-level access to and storage of high-quality water 
Business Management
  • Improve understanding of farmers’ attitudes towards managing seasonal variability and a drying climate, including identifying triggers for transformational change 
  • Lessons learnt from other farm enterprises that demonstrate business resilience and performance in dry and variable years 
  • Explore emerging and diverse land uses and users that improve drought and climate resilience, could include native species; trees; bushfoods; greenhouse gas emission accounting and carbon farming; off-farm enterprises; natural capital accounting; biodiversity credits; and energy farmers; and the subsequent business cases  
Digital Agriculture 
  • Build industry digital capacity and literacy 
  • Utilise remote sensing technology and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoTs) to efficiently manage seasonal variability in a drying climate 

4. South-West

ThemeTheme priorities 
Agricultural Practices – Agronomy 
  • Practices that optimise management during extreme heat, which may relate to tree canopy structure, evaporative cooling, netting, irrigation, nutrition, spray-on protectants, and other stress reduction products/practices
  • Protected cropping options to manage water, salinity and heat stress, and provision to growers of return-on-investment (ROI) information for different crop types 
  • Efficient systems (shade, structures) for protected cropping that provide best return on investment 
  • Improved biodiversity plantings, revegetation, and pollination services to increase floral resources for apiarists
Agricultural Practices – Livestock  
  • Information about feeding strategies, including benchmarking, economic analyses and seasonal variability planning. Feeding strategies may include containment feedlots, supplementary feeding, forage conservation – hay/silage, forage shrubs and crop and/or pasture species mixes for a range of soil types 
  • Best management practice for feed production that matches animal requirements while minimising emissions 
  • Mixed species forage (crop or pasture) that is resilient in variable seasons and suitable for high rainfall zone 
  • Optimal drought resilient shelterbelts 
  • Time of calving and lambing that matches feed supply and market demand 
 

Carbon Footprint 

 

 

  • Business and productivity benchmarking for environmentally sustainable practices across all industries 
  • Education programs on best practice carbon accounting and sequestration 
 
Water Management
  • Best practice irrigation systems suitable for specific environments and farming systems
  • Improved water capture and conservation options, including management of surface irrigation water, roaded catchments and dam technology 
  • Water testing to ensure optimal water quality and supply in a changing climate 
  • Improved wastewater recycling or reuse options from intensive industries 
  • Government supported infrastructure to ensure secure water supplies 
  • Water management and forward planning to ensure water availability during periods of drought/low rainfall 
 
Business Management 
  • Environmental best practice guidelines to contribute to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) frameworks 
Digital Agriculture
  • Information delivered at demonstration sites (digital farm set-up) focusing on digital agriculture and data use, using ‘Internet of Things’ (IoTs) technology (which may include weather, soil and other sensor data) for farm management decisions during variable seasons 
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