A word from the Chairman: just another lazy 15-20mm


“Just another lazy 15-20mm” was the response I received when I rang home last week to find out if we’d had rain overnight.

It does seem lazy when the rain falls and we haven’t performed our usual ‘rainmaking’ tricks like: worrying, not sleeping, washing the car, checking the radar/forecast a million times, putting the washing out and leaving the toys outside (the kids are pretty dedicated to that last one).

Whilst I have always believed in trying to focus my efforts on things I can influence, the ease with which it has rained in the last few months (sometimes from a blue sky!) has made me realise what a waste of time and energy those ‘rainmaking’ tricks are.

I have also noticed that the ‘rain-stopping’ activities, such as putting up a new automatic weather station, have likewise, been futile.

September has always been the crunch month for our Mallee crops and the peak time for ‘rainmaking’ activities. This year we’ve had over 160mm for September which is a record since John’s forebears started the rainfall book in 1913.

The only other time our farm received more than 100mm since then was 112mm in 1964. No other years have we got close.

To put this month into perspective, last year the annual total was 189mm.

Prior to sowing this year, we were sitting at about decile three and with little summer rainfall, including zero for the month of February. The turnaround has been quite remarkable. Our local creek, the Tyrrell, is flooding. Our road is closed and impassable. Getting down the driveway is for four wheel drives only and we expect to lose a few hectares due to flooding as well as water-logging.

Renneys road Oct 2016
Renney’s Road looking towards our silos and house.

Likewise in our threatened catchments and the blue green algae outbreak in the Murray River in February caused by high temperatures and low inflows, now seem like distant memories with storage capacities in the Grampians well over 50 per cent; and it is still raining!

When we had that lazy 15-20mm, I was in Melbourne at the BCG ‘Shared Solutions’ dinner where we celebrated some of our key partnerships and heard Mike Grundy from CSIRO talk about how digital disruption may play out in agriculture.

While we are busy trying to make the best decisions for our own little patch of land and fine tuning our ‘rainmaking’ tricks it is comforting to know that some of the best minds in the country are considering how these broader concepts may impact our businesses.

Nevertheless, the real disruptions to our farm will continue to be related to the vagaries of the weather, the real impacts from digital disruption will occur further down the value chain in transport logistics and markets.

Here’s hoping the rainfall settles down in October, unlike 1964 when it was another above average month. The notes for 1964 were “very good year, 10 bag average. Wettest September in our records.”

Hopefully we can write something similar in our record book for 2016, with a slightly higher average!

On another note, good luck to everyone getting on your paddocks to protect those valuable pulses. For those of you with livestock, enjoy those record sale prices and all the best gearing up for what will be a busy but challenging harvest period.

I hope to see a few of you in Birchip for the BCG Annual General Meeting on Monday 24 October at 5pm.

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