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Taking the guesswork out of Northern Australia forecasts for the beef industry

USQ’s Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) has monumentally improved forecasting for the northern grazing industry since 2018.

"This project has assembled the best minds in climate science and focused them on northern Australia for the next 4 years"
Professor Roger Stone

Principal supporter, Meat and Livestock Australia, contributes four million dollars so the northern beef industry has more accurate climate tools and wet season onset forecasts.

Northern Australia is responsible for around 60% of the nation's total beef production.
"Red meat producers in Northern Australia are hungry for improved seasonal forecasts, predictions of multi-year as well as fast-developing or flash droughts and wet season onset"
Doug McNicholl
Program Manager Meat and Livestock Australia

Mr McNicholl says NACP will continue to develop new forecast products but their extension work is key because graziers want and need assistance interpreting forecasts for business decision making.

NACP Program Director David Cobon explains northern Australia has missed out on climate research developments in the past.

"Much more investment has gone into climate research for grain growers in southern Australia, however for large parts of Northern Australia the climate is becoming more variable - so it puts more emphasis on needing better forecasting"
David Cobon
NACP Program Director and Senior Scientist, USQ Centre for Applied Climate Sciences

In addition to USQ research scientists from the Centre for Applied Climate Sciences, the program involves Melbourne based Bureau of Meteorology experts, other staff from the world-leading Hadley Centre for Climate Research and the “UK Met Office” in the United Kingdom as well as graziers from Northern Australia, who work as specialist local extension “Climate Mates” to help their community to understand the research and apply it in a practical way.

Already the project has created the “Northern Rainfall Onset” that has accurately predicted an early or late wet season onset in its first two years of application.

The Centre is also making changes in business culture with insurance products so when producers can’t manage their way through what the weather has in store they can still protect their business and continue to produce quality sustainable food and fibre to the world.

USQ strengthening the agricultural sector

Drawing on the world-leading knowledge and extensive experience of USQ’s Centre for Applied Climate Sciences team, engaging with industry bodies and connecting with farmers, USQ is aiming to strengthen the agricultural sector. Supporting the industry to be more sustainable, resilient and profitable while the climate is becoming more variable and challenging is imperative.

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