Hightech Risk Management in the Wimmera Mallee

Ian and Warwick McClelland
Birchip, Victoria

  • 250 mm average rainfall
  • 7,700 hectares
  • Producing wheat, barley, red lentils, canola and sheep for meat and wool.

Both optimists, brothers Ian and Warwick McClelland are prone to sticking their necks out when it comes to taking risks in farming. For them risk can equal profit.

To temper the risk they use the risk assessment program Yield Prophet to predict crop yield and to see how changing their management decisions can improve yield. Once sceptics of the Southern Oscillation Index they now keep a close eye on the Mean Southern Oscillation Index.

Flexibility is another tool in the brothers’ climate risk management kit. They avoid getting locked into a rigid system where they cannot react and take advantage of commodity prices and seasonal variations.

Climate Management Tools Used

  • A culture of change, evaluation, discussion, trials and different opinions through the Birchip Cropping Group.
  • Decision support software Yield Prophet that models wheat yields under different climate scenarios.
  • Regular climate workshops for group members with the Bureau of Meteorology to improve understanding of local climate issues.
  • Ongoing study of the ‘Mean Southern Oscillation Index’ as a predictive tool for rainfall in the Wimmera-Mallee district.
  • An opportunistic approach to farm activities, responding quickly to actual weather conditions.

Complete 2004 Story (pdf 117 Kb)

Only parts of the McClellands’ 1999 interview are available.

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