High-tech rain gauges filling a gap for producers


Queensland graziers are trialling high-tech satellite rain gauges to help scientists plug gaps in rainfall data across the state.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said rainfall data was essential for information tools used by graziers.

“Rainfall, or the lack of it, is one of the fundamental measurements used in environmental management tools such as FORAGE and pasture growth reports,” Mr Furner said.

“FORAGE generates property-level reports incorporating a range of seasonal conditions and other environmental data, and AussieGRASS uses spatial simulation to model pasture growth and seasonal conditions in rangelands.

“With Queensland being so large, rainfall data is often segmented over varying locations and time periods leading to information gaps.

“Already the rainfall data collected reinforces how variable Queensland’s climate can be with rainfall varying markedly over short distances. In one day in December, one gauge recorded 106mm, 3km away another gauge recorded 85mm and 14 km away one recorded 8mm.”

Minister for Science Meaghan Scanlon said this innovative trial involved a state-wide network of high-tech rain gauges that would measure rainfall and transmit the data via satellite to the grazier every 24 hours.

“We’re hopeful this trial will help fill in the spatial gaps that can occur with the existing Queensland-wide network of meteorological weather stations,” Minister Scanlon said.

“The data will also feed via satellite into SILO, the Queensland Government’s publicly available and real-time climate data tool along with feeding into and enhancing FORAGE and grass reports used for climate risk management.

“If successful, the trial has the potential to lead to a larger deployment of these high-tech rain gauges to assist more of our landholders.”

The 20 fully automated rain gauges, each with tipping, collecting, measuring, and satellite data transmitting capability, are located on properties in the Diamantina, Torrens Creek, Charters Towers, Galilee, Durong, Esk, Lochington, Blackwater, Morven, Surat, Samford, Tregony, and Collinsville districts.

This trial with a total investment of $311,000 will run until June 2021 and is funded by the Queensland Government’s Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP).

DCAP is bringing together the best climate scientists, climate advisors, and cutting-edge researchers in the state, nationally and globally to help Queensland primary producers better manage drought and climate impacts.

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