AS BEAVER Rock grazier Royce Sommerfeld takes a food bucket over to his skinny cattle, the dry grass cracks under his feet.

Royce has been managing sugar cane and cattle for 50 years, and has seen his fair share of drought.

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The farmer said the worst drought he had seen was in the 1950s, but his part of the world had not been this dry in at least seven years.

"If we don't get rain in February, it'll be diabolical," Royce said.

"If it doesn't change in the next two weeks or so, I'll be watching the cane die and there's nothing I can do."

THE LAST DROP: Surrounded by a growing dust bowl, Beaver Rock grazier Royce Sommerfeld stands in front of the last few litres of stagnate water in his dam.
THE LAST DROP: Surrounded by a growing dust bowl, Beaver Rock grazier Royce Sommerfeld stands in front of the last few litres of stagnate water in his dam. Eliza Wheeler

Royce does not rely on any town water, looking either to the skies or underground to find fresh water for his crops and cattle.

"We haven't had good rain out here in about seven months, during the crush," he said.

With just a few litres of stagnant water left in his dams, Royce will soon have to pump water up from the closest bore, about 700m away, to keep his 600 head of cattle alive.

DESPERATE: Royce Sommerfeld's cattle are being fed salt licks and molasses to keep them alive in the dry.
DESPERATE: Royce Sommerfeld's cattle are being fed salt licks and molasses to keep them alive in the dry. Eliza Wheeler

"We can feed them; give them molasses and salt licks for when the grass is dry, but there's not much we can do about the cane," he said.

Royce said his latest concern was fire, as the dead grass and hot winds create the perfect conditions for a nasty blaze.

"I am starting to get concerned, it's a real hazard," he said.



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