The d word

The Oamaru Mail has headlined the d word: Drought declaration looms for Otago region.

We had a short, sharp downpour on Thursday which has taken the pressure off us but we’ve got irrigation, scale and diversity.

It was a very localised rain and even those who got as much as we did will still be facing some tought decisions if they’re dryland farming.

North Otago has been dogged by droughts since farming started here – and no doubt before.

This dry is unusual because it’s taken so long for public acknowledgement.

When there wasn’t much irrigation, all farmers stopped spending when the weather got dry and it didn’t take long for the town to fell the impact.

I think now there’s now enough irrigation to keep the money flowing into Oamaru so the town hasn’t been affected the way it was in the past.

We look across green pasture to dry paddocks in the distant and are grateful we’ve got irrigation. It must be hard for those on the dryland looking back the other way as they run short of feed and have to face up to quitting stock.

There was a dusting of snow on the Kakanui mountains yesterday morning. It was gone by lunchtime but it’s a sign that temperatures are dropping so even if the region gets more rain soon, it will be too late for pre-winter growth.

One good thing about the decrease in the sheep population is that there is plenty of space at the freezing works so farmers needing to reduce stock will have somewhere to send them.

Lambs are selling for about $75 dollars and ewes for around $55. Two year old beef cattle are fetching about $950.

It may not be a fortune but it has been much worse.

When the ag-sag of the 80s coincided with a drought some farmers got bills when they sent stock to the works because transport and killing charges exceeded the value of the animals.

PS Contact details for the Rural Support Trust which helps rural families facing an adverse event – climatic, financial or personal – are on this website.

4 Responses to The d word

  1. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    Look on the bright side. With all this damned global warming, there’ll be more clouds and therefore more rain, warmer winters and therefore more pre-winter growth.

    I’m yet to see any analysis from the global warming gurus on the positive effects on world food production. You know, little things like faster growth, deserts turning green, vast swathes of hitherto frozen tundra producing wheat barley and oats, just to mention a few.


  2. Interesting connection between increased irrigation and reduced attention from an urban community. It’s like the trade-off between vulnerability and complacency at a regional level.

    Adolf, your idea about how climate change might affect North Otago misses a few things. Total rainfall might increase (huge uncertainty at this stage as to how much and in what direction), associated with a shift to more westerlies; Alps snowpack would be larger and would melt earlier with implications for river flow and hydropower; and higher temperatures (pretty certain on this one) would drive higher evaporation, and thus higher plant stress if unirrigated.


  3. gravedodger says:

    Ah I think the dedicated man made AGW true believer will tell you ,as If one is interested, all things negative, destructive or just plain hornery re weather,natural disaster and every thing else, is either a symptom or a manifestation of the dread AGW.
    An air head on overnight radio was even suggesting the current volcanic (I can’t pronounce or spell its name) eruption and the recent earthquakes are a result of the carbon consumption activities of man.
    Do any of you know why it is all Mans fault and not Womans.


  4. gravedodger says:

    BTW there are the needy and the greedy.I personally didn’t need the rain and I endeavor not to be greedy but we received 32 mm although as you said HP it was very patchy here also.


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