Rural R&D for Profit—Seasonal forecasting

The project focuses on improved use of seasonal forecasting to increase farmer profitability.

Why the focus on using forecasts?

The Australian Government’s Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme accepted a proposal from the current MCV partners. The research and development partners agreed improving the use of seasonal forecasts could provide the greatest benefit for agricultural production and was currently under-resourced.

How will the program improve the use of forecasts?

The purpose of the program is to bridge the gap between seasonal climate forecasts and farm business decisions, and to improve productivity and profitability.

The program will:

  • define the critical seasonal climate risk information needed by Australian farmers
  • improve understanding of the usefulness of seasonal climate forecasts and how to incorporate these into business decision making
  • provide seasonal climate information which can be tailored to individual needs
  • improve seasonal climate forecast skill in agricultural areas.

What’s the plan for the program work?

The program plan addresses the following three priorities:

  1. Valuing the forecastIt is very difficult to assess how to use a forecast in a meaningful way if a person doesn’t know how useful (valuable) a forecast is for a certain region at a given time. This is particularly true because forecasts are usually presented in probabilities, which are difficult to understand, especially for on-farm decision-making.
  2. Using the forecastWe know that farmers have higher profits if they better understand what a forecast actually means, and how to use that forecast to manage risk. This is achieved when farmers minimise losses in bad years and maximise returns in good years.
  3. Improve the ACCESS-S forecasting modelIt’s fundamental that any improved use of forecasts must be accompanied by improved forecasts. This area of the project aims to correct biases within Australia’s seasonal forecasting model, ACCESS-S, in relation to atmospheric convection. Fixing the biases will deliver forecasting benefits across Australia, particularly in regional areas.

 

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