Wimmera weather radar: state government commits $5 million

Victorian Farmers Federation Ararat branch representative Charlie De Fegely with premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: MICHELLE DE'LISLE

Victorian Farmers Federation Ararat branch representative Charlie De Fegely with premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: MICHELLE DE'LISLE

A NEW radar will be built to rid the Wimmera and Mallee regions of weather blackspots and help growers better prepare for rain.

The state government has promised $5 million to fund a Doppler weather radar station in the Wimmera.

Premier Daniel Andrews said farmers needed as much information as possible to make the best decisions for their crops.

“For the first time in a very long time, these communities will have accurate data so they can make the best decisions to get the best yield,” he said.

“People have been talking about doing this for 10 or 15 years, we are getting on delivering because it is what the community needs.

“In order to get the most out of challenging circumstances, you have got to have the best data, you have got to have the very best information.”

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president David Jochkinke said it was the most significant investment he had seen in the region.

“The farming community has been crying out for this project for years,” he said.

“Finally we’ll be able to check the radar to see what rainfall is over the horizon, so we can make real time decisions based on real time information.”

The federal government will also add $3.25 million to the project.

This will help cover the running costs for the next 15 years, which is the total life of the station.

Mr Jochinke said spraying crops ahead of expected dry weather could be costly for farmers if expensive spray was washed away by rain.

“Farmers could lose a large amount of money if they spray on the basis of a dry forecast only to discover 

it does rain and wash the sprays away,” he said.

“Conversely they’ve struggled to time their urea applications, which need follow-up rain to wash it into the soil.

“Having access to weather radar is also valuable in determining how much rain is in those rain bands and what impact it will have – even when it comes to applying fungicides to protect crops in the lead-up to rainfall that might trigger a disease outbreak.”

Federation grains president Brett Hosking said Wimmera and Mallee farmers has to use weather stations in Mount Gambier and Mildura to guess what the weather would be.

“This is an important investment for farmers and for regional and rural communities,” he said.

“It will close what is currently effectively a black hole in the weather information system.”

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