The many tools available online

Posted by : Gordon Rogers | Category : Tools | Comments : 0 Comments

farm tools

There is a wide range of tools available for helping growers and others involved in the vegetable industry to manage the impacts of climate change and variability. Although some have been developed for other industries, such as grains and broad acre agriculture, they still contain elements useful for vegetable growers.

The tools can be grouped into

  • Understanding and managing climate
  • Forecasting weather
  • Carbon footprinting and managing emissions
  • Financial management and compliance

Understanding and managing climate

The Australian CliMate tool and Yield Prophet (designed for grain growers) have both proven very popular tools for understanding and managing climate. However, there are many others also available.

Click HERE for a table listing the huge range of climate management tools available over the Internet. The tools which have more detailed descriptions on this website are highlighted in green.

There are also several models which aim to help people understand how the climate is predicted to change. These can help in making specific predictions on what is expected given different scenarios and interests. Climate dogs, developed by the Victorian DPI, NSW DPI and the Bureau of Meteorology presents a fairly lighthearted, entertaining look at global climate processes. The CSIRO site OzClim takes a more serious look at climate modelling based on different scenarios.

The tools that are missing are ones which would help growers evaluate the suitability and risks of growing specific crops in their region. It would be possible to create such a tool from the GIS formatted output in OzClim matched to crop growing requirements, temperature and rainfall.

A tool which helped predict extreme weather events would also be extremely useful for vegetable growers. The “Managing Climate Variability” project would be ideally suited to work with the vegetable industry and the Bureau of Meteorology to improve forecasting in growing regions.

Forecasting weather

The main reputable online sources of weather and climate forecasts for Australia are:

 Carbon footprinting and managing emissions

The most important tool in this area is the Vegetable Carbon Calculator. This was developed as part of a HAL project (VG09187), funded by Australian vegetable growers through HAL with support from Houston’s Farms (Tasmania) and Woolworths.

Other agricultural industries have also developed tools for calculating carbon footprint and minimising greenhouse gas emissions. These include the Cool Farm tool (crops and livestock), FarmGas tool (Meat and Livestock Australia), Renewable energy Calculator (Nursery and Garden Industry) and the Australian Wine Carbon Calculator (Winemakers Federation of Australia).

Financial Management and Compliance

The tool most likely to be useful to the vegetable industry is the Veg Tool. This was developed by Schofield Robinson with funding from the Australian Vegetable Industry and HAL. While it is not specifically related to managing the impacts of climate change, the tool does provide a framework for assessing gross margins and can be used to compare different  scenarios.

As agriculture is not covered by the carbon tax, vegetable growers are not required to report emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme.

However, some processors and suppliers to the industry may be liable. The NGER is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator, who provides a number of compliance tools on their website:

  • The Threshold estimator enable users to assess whether they are likely to be liable under the Clean Energy Act 2011 as well as whether a controlling corporation is likely to be obliged to report under the NGER Act 2007.
  • Solid waste calculator and user guide is used to assess greenhouse gas emissions from landfill operations.
  • NGER wastewater calculators are available for domestic, commercial and industrial applications. They aim to assess greenhouse gas emissions resulting from wastewater treatment.
  • Uncertainty calculators are used to assess and report uncertainty associated with scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions.