Climate workshop for farmers from the weather masters

ON THE land, it can feel like you are at the mercy of the weather gods.

A series of workshops organised by the Queensland Farmers' Federation in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology is aiming to give farmers greater control by teaching them how to access the best weather information.

BOM senior forecasters Michelle Berry and Rick Threlfall hit the road along with Neil Swift from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, stopping in Monto yesterday to share tips and discuss common issues with local farmers.

The workshops aimed to highlight the relationship between weather and climate in managing risk and farm business planning.

"It's so important to know about what the weather is doing," said QFF project manager Ross Henry, who attended the workshops with QFF's Mark Neville.

"The quality of that information and how it impacts on decision making is huge on the farm.

"To get climate experts out there talking to farmers is really beneficial."

For many of those attending, including grain, sheep and beef farmers, it would have been a rare opportunity to talk with the experts one-on-one.

BOM senior forecaster Michelle Berry said the workshops presented a great opportunity to engage directly with people on the land.

"We chose to focus on services most relevant for farmers and graziers, providing an in-depth explanation of forecasting and warning services, including interpretation of probability in rainfall forecasts," she said.

"We also took a look at further enhancements to graphical weather forecasts through MetEye, and the new Japanese metrological satellite - and finally the mobile website, an easy way to access real-time data in the field."

MetEye is a BoM product that has been around for two years, "but hardly anyone knows about it," Mr Henry said.

It allows users to go online and look at extremely detailed weather predictions mapped out to a 6km grid.

"We were able to log onto the internet, we zoomed into Monto, and got the forecast for next 7 days in 3 hour cycles," he said.

A screenshot of the MetEye map.
A screenshot of the MetEye map.

"With the climate and weather extremes we've been going through - Monto has been through drought, flood and drought again - to be able to make those decisions is really important."

The day also provided the experts with valuable feedback.

"To have bureau staff there to talk through everything they're able to do, and find out what farmers do and don't find useful, was really helpful.

"These days access to information is at your finger tips - you've got a computer in your pocket, so it's important you can understand that information and trust it."

The climate workshop ran in Biloela today and will be in Yeppoon tomorrow.

Check out MetEye at bom.gov.au/australia/meteye.



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