Milking the Weather – Farmers milking more from weather and climate — ASN Events

Milking the Weather – Farmers milking more from weather and climate (7837)

Zita Ritchie 1
  1. Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Warrnambool, VIC, Australia

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) releases a newsletter called Milking the Weather to provide timely climate information to help dairy farmers and the service industry understand the key drivers of our climate and how to better respond given the outlook.

Staying up to date with the main drivers of our climate is a key to understanding and managing seasonal risk on farm. The first challenge is to make sense of what influences our climate and rainfall at different times of the year.  The newsletter aims to improve the readers’ understanding of the key influences affecting climate variability and change as well as lead to practice change by farmers incorporating climate information into their decision making on farm.

Milking the Weather has as subscriber base of  542 people, of which 50% are farmers with the remaining 50% agricultural service providers, including government and private sectors.  

An electronic survey was conducted to identify the demographics of the readership as well as analyse the changes in their attitudes and knowledge since receiving the newsletter. Although there was a low response rate of 7%, it could be argued that those that responded are likely to key audience actively seeking climate information. Of the respondents, the largest demographic was farmers and  47 of respondents were  50 years or older.

When asked to rate their understanding of weather and climate before reading the newsletter, the majority of respondents rated themselves as having a basic understanding, with only 28% considering themselves to have a good understanding before the newsletter. After receiving the newsletter, respondents understanding of climate and weather increased to 54%, with only 3% having a basic understanding (down from 37%).

In addition to increasing understanding of climate drivers and seasonal risk, the Milking the Weather newsletter  lead to 42% of readers making or changing a decision, and 48% took an action as a result of the newsletter. In addition, 67% had chosen to seek further information as a result of receiving the newsletter.

Further dissemination of information occurred with 85% of service providers indicating they had passed this information to clients and 97% would recommend the newsletter to others. 

Milking the Weather has shown to be a valuable communication tool to building the dairy farming sectors’ knowledge and understanding of the key influences of the climate, and how to better manage climate risk on their farm or for their clients.