To improve the usefulness of seasonal climate forecasts, farmers and advisers need to:

  • understand the relative value of the forecast
  • share their ideas, concepts and approaches to using climate information.

As well, access to relevant forecast information (in many formats) must also be improved.

We know that, for people to use climate forecasts in the long term, it needs to be acknowledged that there is a level of uncertainty in the forecast, and that few decisions are based on climate information alone.

This project has 2 parts; to develop:

  • a Community of Practice for Australian farmers, their advisers, and extension and adoption experts (2a)
  • products, tools and services that meet farmer and adviser information needs (2b).

Project 2a—Community of Practice

The aim
This project aims to increase a farmer’s ability to manage in a variable climate by establishing a group of people that share a common interest in seasonal climate forecasts and their use in farm decision-making.

What it will deliver
This project will deliver:

  1. a forum for farmers and advisers to talk to practice specialists and climate practitioners
  2. better presentation of forecast outputs and engagement by practitioners and specialists
  3. a greater understanding of the usefulness of seasonal forecasts (or lack of) in different regions across the year
  4. access for farmers and advisers to the latest climate information, and understanding for business decision-making
  5. an understanding of what helps and hinders farmers using improved climate forecast information
  6. an annual workshop for people in the program to share their progress and deliverables.

Project overview
An Australian seasonal forecasting community of practice (CoP) will be created for Australian farmers, their advisers, and extension and adoption experts. The CoP will engage with leading seasonal climate variability scientists, who will use information tailored to communicate the value of seasonal climate information and how to use seasonal forecasts most effectively.

This will deliver to farmers:

  • improved collaboration
  • greater value from within existing expertise and resources
  • an improved flow of science
  • more discussion channels for seasonal climate variability projects.

A key aspect of bringing together this expertise is create trust in the system, which is required to give farmers and advisers sufficient confidence in the information and how to use it. The CoP will be built on the following principles:

  • engagement
  • knowledge
  • shared resources.

This project will make use of extension and adoption resources from the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; South Australian Research and Development Institute; Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia; NSW Department of Primary Industries; and University of Southern Queensland.

Project 2b—Develop and tailor products, tools and services

The aim
This project aims to develop and tailor products, tools and services that are of most use to farmers and advisers.

What it will deliver
As projects create deliverables, we will assess what other products we can deliver, in an iterative process. We also anticipate that we will deliver:

  1. a review of relevant vocational education and training (VET) training courses to make sure any seasonal climate forecast information draws on the latest research
  2. training materials that can be used to run stand-alone training exercises or incorporated into existing training
  3. pilot tests of the training materials
  4. a range of tools and services to help explain specific attributes of forecasts and explanations of difficult aspects that we have identified through the projects.

Project overview
Firstly, we will consider the outputs of Project 1 (Valuing the forecast) in terms of farmer and adviser information needs.

From this, we will develop products, tools and services—in collaboration with farmers, advisers and extension specialists—to meet those needs.

We also recognise that we will need to develop products, tools and services that help communicate the research outcomes and provide a legacy for the program.

Other projects within the Rural R&D For Profit program

Project 1: Valuing the forecast
Project 3: Enhancing the ACCESS-S forecasting model