Dry takes hold in NSW | My Machinery
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Dry takes hold in NSW

There has not been a fall of rain large enough to cause run-off on Robert Wason’s Brewarrina property, “Urie Point”, for more than a year. The most rainfall he has had in a single fall since last March – when large swathes of the Darling Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) was flooded – was a little more than 10 millimetres. The situation is played out across much of the Darling LHPA, of which Mr Wason is chairman, and a large number of producers are having to cart water as storages run dry. While there is still a large body of pasture in the district following two good seasons, it is rapidly losing nutrients. Landholders have started hand-feeding and also selling off livestock. The Darling LHPA is not the only region affected, with the latest Department of Primary Industries seasonal conditions report finding conditions have continued to deteriorate in the Lachlan, Central West and Western LHPAs. John Newcombe is the executive officer of the Regional Assistance Advisory Committee (RAAC), which he said was in the midst of working on recommendations for Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson in the worst-affected regions. However, while many regions are suffering from prolonged periods of minimal rainfall, the situation was reversed along much of the coast. “It’s very much a mixed bag across NSW,” Mr Newcombe said. “Particularly on the North Coast, and some of the South Coast has received considerable rainfall. “But there are certainly areas of the State that are below average. There are certainly some indications that water supplies are running out around Brewarrina and Bourke. “Farmers are selling stock, moving stock onto agistment; they’re having to hand-feed and cart water. The committee is having a look at those things and – within broad parameters – what it can recommend to the minister.” Mr Newcombe said the RAAC – chaired by NSW Rural Assistance Authority chairman and former Meat and Livestock Australia managing director David Palmer – was considering adjusting the transport subsidy for the purposes of animal welfare. “The committee is looking at the rules around transport subsidies for animal welfare purposes for when farmers need to get the stock off their property that won’t return, so sale to slaughter or another enterprise,” he said. “Those rules are being considered as we speak.” The seasonal conditions report found there was above average rainfall in central, north and North West NSW during March. In the past three months there has been below average rainfall between Enngonia, Bourke, Brewarrina, Nymagee, Nyngan, Tottenham and Lake Cargelligo, the report found. The report found relative pasture growth was patchy, with data unavailable for large areas of the Western and Riverina LHPA districts, which have suffered from reduced rainfall. Modelled relative dry matter levels across central NSW ranged from average to well below average, while topsoil moisture was very low in the far west, low across central areas and moderate to high along the coast. Mr Newcombe said the potential silver lining of the report was that between April and June there was a 60 to 80 per cent chance of rainfall exceeding the median for northern and eastern NSW. However, the probability drops to between 45 and 55pc for south-western and far-western NSW. “We’ve had two good seasons; it’s a shock to go back into this,” he said. “Certainly around the Bourke/Brewarrina area, the conditions in the short-term are as bad as they’ve been for a long, long time. “Hopefully the good news for that area is wetter conditions are likely between April and June.”

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