Northern Tablelands LLS and Bureau of Metereology hold workshops next month on weather trends and forecasting

The variability of Australian weather and climate is one of the most challenging aspects in agriculture. It is often said that Australian farmers operate in one of the riskiest environments in the world.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, in conjunction with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Agriculture Program, will host a series of workshops in early June, focusing on weather trends and forecasting.

The informative three-hour sessions, funded through the Australian Government's National Landcare Program, will include information about weather trends for Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Inverell, Guyra and Walcha, as well as these centres' immediate outlying regions.

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Sandy Hodgens from the Sustainable Agriculture Team, Northern Tablelands LLS, is confident that the workshops will prove extremely beneficial on a number of levels.

"These workshops are designed to provide landholders the opportunity to make more informed decisions which will impact on the productivity of their enterprise," she said.

Luke Shelley, general manager, Agriculture, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), will be the workshop's key presenter.

"I will provide an overview of the products available on the Bureau's website," he said. " This will include understanding soil moisture in a regional context, how to access weather forecasting for your local area and how to better use this information."

He will present local statistics specific to the region covering the past 30 - 60 years, including frost occurrences, analysis of temperatures, and comparative statistics for rainfall.

"More broadly, I will also touch on the links between the facts and figures presented and climate change projections," Mr Shelley said. "The aim of the workshops is to provide relevant information that will allow better decision making and risk management in business. It is also about exploring what people need, so that we can provide better support."

Mr Shelley will encourage input and feedback. Extensive travel throughout northern NSW and QLD in the past three months has provided him with the opportunity to gather valuable opinions and concerns.

"The feedback we have received is that people need information more relevant to their local area, to make better decisions for their business. We are looking to fill this gap, and are optimistic that we will be able to meet this need by partnering with Local Land Services.

"The Bureau of Meteorology is looking to build a partnership with Local Land Services to support and facilitate the work they do in helping communities.

"I have also understood that presenting averages, such as average rainfall or average changes, is not necessarily meaningful," Mr Shelley said. "We understand the need to improve the links back to the industries and producers who make significant decisions for their livelihood."

Mr Shelley recognises that the most accurate information to ensure these links are effective is even more important in the current climatic conditions. He believes that better preparation and understanding of the environment is vital.

"In this way, the focus of the workshops is also about building meaningful relationships and engaging with participants, with the opportunity to work more closely with them to support them."

For further information about the Weather Trends and Forecasting Workshops, or to register your interest, contact Sandy Hodgens on 0428 744 287, or by e-mail sandy.hodgens@lls.nsw.gov.au