Climate and Change.Monday, Mar 31, 2003
Five millimetres of rain overnight does nothing to improve the severity of the drought affecting the Manawatu region and also other parts of the south of the North Island and east of the South Island.
Stock still appear to be in reasonable condition and reports show that while it is abnormal for store stock to be sold out of this region the fortuitous easterly rain that fell on parts of the North Island has ensured that there is a reasonable market for this class of stock.
Locally dairy production on individual farms is substantially down on both average and planned seasonal targets. However it is clear that lessons from the past have been learned and the stresses of periodic dry spells seem to be handled much more pragmatically by farmers.
Even with the local severity of this years dry spell farmers appear to have got on with job of planning the allocation of feed supplements or the organisation of off-farm grazing or as a final resort the sale of stock.
One of the side benefits of operating a higher bought in supplement regime, that has become common in the past decade, has been the usefulness of these reserves for bridging these “feed gaps” pending better pasture growth at the end of a dry spell.
Forecasts of an end to the current El Nino phase of the Southern Oscillation Index from April it will not arrive soon enough to give a lift in growth before the cooler temperatures of early winter arrive.
This generation of farmers have certainly successfully applied themselves to managing the variables that are thrown at them inside the farm gate. One hopes those outside the farm gate are equally up to the job of managing producers interests in the stormy turbulence of trade disruption that may be bearing down on the pastoral industry due to the international climate change now starting to show in farm trade..