Water dries up on coastal farms
A HUGE turnout at a Tactics for Dry Times event at Inverloch last week reflected the serious concerns of many dairy farmers along the coastal strip.
Seventy farmers filled Warren and Kerrie Redmond’s Bass Highway farm shed on Monday, December 1 as they sought advice on how to tackle water shortages on their own farms.
It was by far the largest crowd of the three Tactics for Dry Times sessions, which had been previously held at Lardner and near Yarram.
Tactics for Dry Times is a Dairy Australia/GippsDairy initiative that has been rolled out across Gippsland during November and December using dairy service levy funds.
The Redmond farm is seen as reasonably typical of the district, with a reduced silage harvest being followed by a swift drop-off in dam water supplies.
“The season for growing grass was okay. We just managed to get enough rain. We’ve been putting fertiliser on even up until last week,” Warren said.
“I started feeding silage on one of the farms last week and the others won’t be too far away. The main problem is water. We haven’t had any run-off into the dams in at least 14 months.”
A farm walk around the Redmond property highlighted the issues many farmers in the district are facing.
Dry or near empty dams dot the flat landscape, with little hope of solid rainfall to help fill them.
Tactics for Dry Times facilitator Matt Harms said there were no easy answers for local farmers.
“We have a situation in this area, unlike the other two dry times days we have had, in that we have both feed and water as crucial issues,” he said.
“On this particular farm, feed is not such a big problem, but stock water is and it’s a problem that started to develop in the middle of last year.
“The evaporation rate has been quite high, but there has been no run-off down here since the middle of winter 2014.”
GippsDairy projects and events co-ordinator Karen Romano said the water situation in the southern coastal areas is of great concern to farmers and the wider industry.
“GippsDairy and Dairy Australia will be leading the way in gathering relevant information from farmers, milk companies, catchment management authorities and government agencies,” she said.
“It’s crucial we have everyone on board with this issue and that all the relevant stakeholders know how serous things are and how they can assist farmers to get through this difficult time.”
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