Local farms dealing with the El Nino system | photos, video

The hype around the El Nino system bringing drier conditions has been dampened around the Riverina.

Don Kirkpatrick

Don Kirkpatrick

The Wagga region saw 78mm of rain above average with the majority falling in November, after the El Nino system was declared.

Agronomist at Upper Murray Seeds and farmer for 30 years, Don Kirkpatrick said 2015 turned out to be a bumper season around Wagga.

“It looked like it was going to be a really tough year with all major forecasts looking at strong El Nino event, which we got but it didn’t stop raining,” Mr  Kirkpatrick said.

“You’ve got to watch the weather pattern but you don't know how it will impact the season.”

El Nino information. Picture: BOM.

El Nino information. Picture: BOM.

Third generation Lockhart farmer, Brent Alexander, doesn’t rely on long term forecasting saying they aren’t reliable in the area.

“I just go off what’s happening and what the soil moisture is,” he said.

Mr Alexander has been running a mixed farming enterprise including winter cropping and sheep for the last 30 years.

The forecast for less than average rain until March isn’t overly concerning for his operation.

“We need opening rains to plant but if we miss out we can still get by, it’s missing the spring rains that really hurts,” Mr Alexander said.

ENSO tracker

ENSO tracker

At the main family property, Annesley, they are hand feeding lambs and expect to start feeding sheep in coming weeks but this is normal practice.

El Nino status was declared in May 2015 and isn’t expected to return to neutral until autumn this year. Temperatures and less rain are generally expected in an El Nino. 

In the Riverina, maximum temperatures are expected to be above average.

There is also expected to be less rain around the region for January, February and March. An El Nino system is measured using the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). SOI measures the difference in surface air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin.

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