Riverine Plains Chair and Howlong farmer, Ian Trevethan, said the text service has been designed to update farmers on local weather conditions in real time, with an SMS alert sent to farmers when weather conditions become dangerous for harvesting.
“As farmers, we can get so focussed in the day-to-day running of harvest that we can easily become disconnected to the changing weather outside our air-conditioned cabins – getting a text message alert to changing weather conditions in real-time may help reduce the risk of a harvester-fire starting in dangerous conditions” he said.
The alert system was developed by Riverine Plains, in conjunction with IK Caldwell, and is based on the Grass Fire Index (GFI) system used by fire authorities and utilises the Riverine Plains Inc network of weather stations located across south eastern NSW and north east Victoria.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Corteva Agriscience, Riverine Plains members are able to access the new SMS service for free in time for the 2020 harvest.
Dan Dixon, Corteva Agriscience’s Marketing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said that Corteva Agriscience was proud to support the alert service, which would help minimise the risk of a fire starting through on-farm activities.
“Many of our farmer customers are active members of their volunteer local fire brigades and we are pleased to be involved in this project which will help protect the lives and properties of growers, their families and the wider community this summer” said Dan.
Riverine Plains weather stations linked to the new SMS Harvest Fire Index Alert include; Barooga, Berrigan, Culcairn, Henty, Howlong, Lockhart, Pleasant Hills and Rand in NSW, as well as Bungeet, Miepoll, Rutherglen, Telford and Yabba South in Victoria. The Riverine Plains network of weather stations and soil moisture probes can be accessed at www.riverineplains.org.au.
“Harvesting conditions can deteriorate quite quickly and the text service is designed to help farmers be more aware of the conditions which would quickly see a fire get out of control, should one start, even with protective measures in place” said Ian.
“That said, pulling up harvest is always the right course of action if you feel it is potentially dangerous to keep harvesting, with or without, an alert” he added.
For further information, please visit the Riverine Plains website www.riverineplains.org.au or contact the Riverine Plains Office on 03 5744 1713.
Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit www.riverineplains.org.au
Fiona Hart, Executive Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713.