CR 36:231-239 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/cr00743

Forecasting water allocations for Bundaberg sugarcane farmers

Yvette Everingham1,*, Craig Baillie2, Geoff Inman-Bamber3, Justine Baillie4

1School of Mathematics, Physics and Information Technology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
2National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia
3CSIRO, University Road, Townsville, Queensland 4814, Australia
4Former address: SunWater, PO Box 3247, Bundaberg DC, Queensland 4670, Australia

ABSTRACT: Limited water availability in dry cane growing regions poses a challenge to sugarcane farmers. Water allocations tend to be lower at the beginning of the water season, and are increased during the season when inflows are captured. Probabilistic information reflecting the likelihood of specified increases in water allocation is not available to sugarcane farmers. The present paper describes how seasonal climate forecasts were used to provide this information for the 2001/2002 season as part of a case study involving sugarcane farmers in Bundaberg, Australia. Water allocation forecasts were then supplied to an irrigation simulation scheduling system to provide guidance about when and how much water could be applied. This research was underpinned by a cross-institutional collaboration that engaged industry, extension officers, engineers from the water authority and scientists from agriculture and climatology. The key findings from this investigation were 2-fold: the participatory approach (1) contributed to the development of information needed by industry, and (2) demonstrated the potential usefulness of climate forecasting models, hydrological models and cropping system simulators to contribute to enhancing knowledge about water availability and application. Additional investigations are required before this technology can be operationalised.

KEY WORDS: Adoption · Barriers · Participatory · Irrigation · Predict · Southern Oscillation · APSIM

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Cite this article as: Everingham Y, Baillie C, Inman-Bamber G, Baillie J (2008) Forecasting water allocations for Bundaberg sugarcane farmers. Clim Res 36:231-239

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