Dairy State Round up
Northern Irrigation District
After a dry start to winter most areas received close to ideal rainfall since the middle of June. Many farmers commented that it seems like it has been a cooler winter which has resulted in less feed grown over this period. As it moves in to the most productive growing months of the year, many farms are well setup for a good spring. Many irrigation systems have reached 100% high reliability water allocation, and the remaining systems look set to reach this over the next couple of months. With reasonable irrigation water prices looking very likely this season, most eyes are now on what is going to happen in the dryland regions in terms of hay and grain production. This looks to very much on a knife's edge at the moment, and could be a good year or tough one.
Cold and foggy conditions during winter have restricted growth somewhat. Heavy rains across the region in July have left paddocks very wet since. Warming weather and plenty of ground moisture promises a good spring.
Macalister Irrigation District
Heavy rain early June resulted in soils beginning the season saturated. Rain was noticeably less in July. With evapotranspiration steadily increasing over the season and the presence of much wind & frost in August, some irrigation has been required. Despite very recent rain, diligent soil moisture monitoring is crucial for irrigators as the coming Spring season unfolds.
Heavy rain occurred early June throughout this coastal area. Further east around Orbost, amounts were extreme and higher rainfall than evapotranspiration over the season occurred. This resulted in soils being extremely slow to dry out, severely impeding pasture renovation of badly damaged paddocks. In the Bairnsdale area, soils have generally dried out over winter enough for most renovation to damaged pastures to take place pretty much as first planned.
South & West Gippsland
Saturated soils have been widespread across the region, making farm life challenging. The good news is that there is excellent soil moisture for spring growth. Winter pasture growth was slow due to low sunlight hours but improved by late August.
Seasonal conditions have been highly variable this winter. Temperatures and rainfall have been favourable for pasture growth in the traditional dairying areas south of the Princes Highway and west towards the South Australian border with some waterlogging and flooding events in mid to late August; having minor impact on pasture production. Areas north of the Princes Highway had a very late break and lower rainfall over the winter period than the rest of the region. Pasture production has been lower than usual in these areas and many farms have had to bring in large amounts of fodder as they had exhausted fodder reserves over the summer autumn period.