A HUGE turnout at a Tactics for Dry Times event at Inverloch last week has reflected the serious concerns of many dairy farmers along the coastal strip.
Seventy farmers filled Warren and Kerrie Redmond’s Bass Highway farm shed on Monday as they sought advice on how to tackle water shortages on their own farms.
It was by far the largest crowd of the three Tactics for Dry Times sessions, which have been previously held at Lardner and near Yarram.
Tactics for Dry Times is a Dairy Australia/GippsDairy initiative that has been rolled out across Gippsland during November and December using dairy service levy funds.
The final session will be held at Denison on Friday, December 11.
The Redmond farm is seen as reasonably typical of the district, with a reduced silage harvest being followed by a swift drop-off in dam water supplies.
“The season for growing grass was OK, we just managed to get enough rain. We’ve been putting fertiliser on even up until last Thursday,” Warren said.
“I started feeding silage on one of the farms today and the others won’t be too far away – probably in the next four or five days.
“The main problem is the water issue. We haven’t had any run-off into the dams in least 14 months.”
A farm walk around the Redmond property highlighted the issues that many farmers in the district are facing.
Dry or near empty dams dot the flat landscape, with little hope of solid rainfall to help fill farm water storages.
Tactics for Dry Times facilitator, Matt Harms, said there were no easy answers for local farmers.
“We have a situation in this area, unlike the other two Dry Times days that we have had, in that we have both feed and water as crucial issues,” he said.
“On this particular farm, feed is not such a big problem, but stock water has become a problem and it’s a problem that started to develop in the middle of last year.
“The evaporation rate has been quite high, but there has been literally no run-off down here since the middle of winter 2014.”
GippsDairy projects and events coordinator Karen Romano said the water situation in the southern coastal areas is of great concern to farmers and the wider industry.
“GippsDairy and Dairy Australia will be leading the way in gathering relevant information from farmers, milk companies, catchment management authorities and government agencies,” she said.
“It’s crucial we have everyone on board with this issue and that all the relevant stakeholders know how serous things are and how they can assist farmers to get through this difficult time.”
Water dries up on coastal farms