How can we better deal with future drought and climate risks?

As farming communities, we’ve been dealing with drought and climate for a long time. But with droughts and extreme weather predicted to become more frequent across much of Australia, it’s clear we need forward-thinking to keep our farms, our land, and our communities thriving.

There are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re prepared. There are many examples of farmers who have been able to stay more productive and recover faster, following drought because of the way they manage their land and natural resources. On the environmental front, managing groundcover, water flow, soil carbon and moisture, and switching to alternative crops and fodder, as well as various grazing and cropping strategies are some of the options.


But the first step is making sure we’ve got the right information so we can make the right decisions. A new, free online tool supports better decision-making by bringing together satellite data, climate projections, and links to resources that support healthy land, financial wellbeing, and physical and mental health in an easy to navigate format.


It’s almost surprising that this hasn’t been done before, but DR.SAT from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, is the first of its kind, combining satellite data at a farm level, with trustworthy farm-level climate projections, and the ability for farmers to ‘sense check’ their level of resilience and get tailored options that can help them better prepare for future drought and climate risks.


DR.SAT stands for Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool, and the centerpiece of the tool is a set of questions about land management practices, financial management, and personal and social context – the assessment. Responding to these questions (don’t worry – you can delete or save the results!) gives you the ability to see the areas where you are doing well, and areas where you could improve, along with options and resources to enable you to take action.


DR.SAT was developed with farmers, for farmers and it taps into expert advice from industry bodies, farm business advisors and others.  It uses climate data from Climate Services for Agriculture (CSA) a joint initiative of the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO.  In its first release the tool is focused on cattle grazing and dryland cropping, but with extension to other commodities and areas following in early 2022.

You can explore DR.SAT at: www.drsat.com.au

For more about the Future Drought Fund and its programs, visit www.awe.gov.au/fdf

Dr Amanda Bourne – Senior Conservation Planning Officer

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