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A Dry Argument

Tuesday 12, Feb 2019

With drought affecting large parts of the country at present, expert Agronomist John Neylan looks at the importance of reviewing water management plans 

 

Following a very dry winter, the summer was looking grim in terms of water availability and the potential for ongoing drought conditions and the implications for turf management. 

Just as you think it is all very straightforward, we appear to have had plenty of rain on the eastern seaboard and as I write this parts of Sydney have copped more than a month’s worth of rain in a single day with the biggest November fall in three decades.

I think what we are seeing is the fickle nature of our weather systems, the localised storm events and a shift in the driest and high stress periods appear to be occurring further into the summer months and late autumn.

These conditions I believe are confirmation of a changing climate. 

In my paper on ‘Turf Management in a Changing Climate’, presented at the Australasian Turf Conference earlier this year in Wellington, I cited The R&A’s ‘Planning for changing climate’ document which has been produced to alert the golfing industry to be aware of the challenges of extreme weather and to plan for change. 

The paper highlights that the planet’s climate is shifting and more extreme conditions and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns can be expected in the future.

This is undoubtedly the case in Australia. With more extreme weather it is expected that this will have a major impact on the way golf courses must be managed and it is important to ensure that the management programmes can cope with whatever the weather throws at it.

The R&A is promoting a sustainable approach to course management to provide the best chance of stability in unpredictable times. 

 

As we lead into the summer months, undertake an internal audit/check of the operation of the irrigation system to make sure there are minimal losses through leaks and poorly operating sprinklers

Note that the R&A will be presenting multiple seminars on Sustainable Golf Course Management at the 2019 Asia Pacific Turfgrass Conference in Brisbane

 

Short Term vs Long Term

Irrespective of the immediate situation, it is still important to look at the longer term outlook for water availability and the possible implications. In referencing the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) Monthly Weather Review for Australia September 2018 (www.bom.gov.au/climate/mwr/aus/mwr-aus-201809.pdf) the numbers were quite compelling; 

  • Australia's driest September on record;
  • Overall, mean temperatures were above average
  • Warmer than average daytime temperatures,
  • Individual states were also very dry with Victoria experiencing its second-driest September, and both Western Australia and South Australia reporting their third-driest September on record. 
  • There were small pockets throughout Western Australia, Northern Territory and northeast New South Wales that received above average rainfall.
  • September maintained a consecutive run of 23 months of warmer than average days for Australia as a whole. 

 

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