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Decision support for climatic risk management in dryland crop production

Cornish, P.S. Prof; Ph: (02) 4570 1374; Fax: (02) 4588 5538

Egan, J.P. Mr; Ph: (08) 8688 3424; Fax: (08) 8688 3427;

Huda, A.K. Dr; Ph: (02) 4570 1390; Fax: (02) 4570 1750;

Abrecht, D.G. Dr; Ph: (08) 9368 3499; Mobile 0417 934 648; Fax: (08) 9368 2165;

Hammer, G.L. Dr; Ph: (07) 4688 1200; Fax: (07) 4688 1193;

Research organisations:

University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, LMB 1, Richmond NSW 2753;

South Australian Research and Development Institute, GPO Box 397, Adelaide SA 5001;

Agriculture Western Australia, 3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151;

Queensland Department of Primary Industries, GPO Box 46, Brisbane Qld 4001


The project forms part of the LWRRDC Climate Variability Program; Grace, Peter Dr (Cooperative Research Centre for Soil and Land Management, Adelaide); Cramb, John Mr (Bureau of Meteorology, WA); Tapp, R Mr (Bureau of Meteorology, WA); Courtney, J Mr (Bureau of Meteorology, WA); Hayman, P Mr (NSW Agriculture); Holland, J Mr (NSW Agriculture); Kneipp, J Mr (NSW Agriculture); Cole, C Mr (NSW Agriculture); South Australian Department of Primary Industries; Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment

Sponsors: GRDC, Grains Research and Development Corporation; LWRRDC, Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation; CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures; NSW Agriculture; Bureau of Meteorology; Department of Primary Industries and Energy; RIRDC, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation


1. To develop decision aid and management strategies to assist farmers to deal with crop production decisions that are greatly affected by climatic risks relevant to each of the dryland cropping regions of Australia;

2. To facilitate collaboration between research workers in dryland cropping regions across Australia in the use and development of broadly applicable and interchangeable decision support software.


Project work was undertaken in each of the dryland cropping regions of Australia using the following general common components: identification of key production decisions for target crops and the role of climatic variability and risk of climatic hazards in influencing those decisions, - use of crop models, long term climatic data, and cost and price data to simulate physical and economic outcomes of decision options and risks of specific climate hazards, - development and initial evaluation of a package of decision support tools based on risk analysis.


APSRU crop models were used to develop local crop production databases for sunflower, sorghum and cotton for representative sites in Queensland and northern NSW. These databases can be stored and accessed on PC's, to address regional crop management issues such as planting times, soil moisture requirements, crop choice, and effects of SOI. Graphical outputs can be used in extension and training programs. Rules of thumb for sorghum management in central Queensland were also derived from these databases. Similar databases for other crops and locations can now be developed readily using this framework to generate, store and access the information from APSRU crop models.

In low rainfall southern cropping systems (WA and SA), the timing and nature of the autumn break to the season has a major bearing on crop yields and cropping decisions. Rules of thumb for managing the break were formulated by analysis of farmers' records and simulation using TACT, a wheat sowing decision software program previously developed for the WA eastern wheatbelt. A version of TACT was developed and calibrated for the Eyre Peninsula region of SA. The value of rainfall and yield probability outputs from TACT and PYCAL (a potential yield calculator based on the French and Schultz formula and using rainfall deciles) was tested with farmers and advisors in WA and SA during the winter crop sowing period in 1996.

Period: starting date 1993-07; completion date 1996-12

Status: completed

Keywords: cropping; management; climate; decision support; risk


Abrecht, D.G. and Robinson, S. (1996). TACT: a tactical decision aid using a CERES-based wheat simulation model. Ecological Modelling 86, 241-244.

Egan, J.P. (1996). Decision support for climatic risk management in dryland crop production. Final report to LWRRDC for project DAS 12, November 1996, 10 pp.

Egan, J.P. and Hammer, G.L. (1995). Managing climate risks in grain production. Proceedings of Managing with Climate Variability Conference, Canberra, November 1995, LWRRDC Occasional Paper CV03/95, pp 98-105.

Huda, A.K.S., Rahman, M.S., Holloway, R.E., Egan, J.P. and Lymn, A.S. (1994). Reducing the risk of cropping in low rainfall areas of southern Australia. Agricultural Systems and Information Technology 6(2), 72-74.

Huda, A.K.S., Rahman, M.S., Egan, J.P., Holloway, R.E. and Lymn, A.S. (1993). Assessing and managing cropping risks in low rainfall areas of southern Australia using agroclimatic data. Technical Paper No. 34, South Australian Department of Primary Industries, Adelaide.


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