Dry conditions are here. We’ve been prepping for it.

Drought and support for our farmers is in the headlines as they navigate one of the driest autumns so far on record.

(Read ABC article HERE)

Here at South West NRM, we’ve known the reality for some time. Our South West region is identified as a ‘global drying hotspot’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since 1970, winter rainfall has declined up to 20%, river flows have plummeted and heatwaves spanning water and land have intensified.

The panel warns this will continue as emissions rise and the climate warms. This isn’t just something that affects our farmers but all of us as food prices shoot up and availability becomes scarce.

Our team of environmental scientists have been working quietly in the front lines of the drought preparation space under one of our major work pillars of Sustainable Agriculture for more than a decade.

Here are some of the projects we have been delivering to assist.

Maybe you would like to sign up for monthly inbox updates on our progress HERE.

‘Surviving the Dry’ – Addressing the social impacts of drought

Surviving the Dry is the collective name for a series of five projects all designed to reduce the potential for community harm during times of drought by first building both social resilience.

South West NRM is delivering one project as well as overseeing delivery of four additional projects by partner organisations. Surviving the Dry represents a total investment by the Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund of $343,000.

According to a 2018 report by Emerging Minds Australia: The big dry: The impact of drought on children and families – “Drought is insidious and devastating for the communities it affects. It has a massive impact on families, businesses, the surrounding environment, and can effect even the most resilient of individuals and communities.”


Drought adaptation for farmers

South West NRM is one of eight Regional Node Leads that help local producers and their communities adapt to drought and the changing climate.

The Regional Node Leads were selected by the South West WA Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, hosted by Grower Group Alliance, as a key component of the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.


Improving farm resilience

Grazing Matcher program: Initiated by South West NRM in 2018, with 12 livestock enterprises from the region working with agricultural advisors over 12 months to increase pasture production, improve fodder conservation and make cost-effective supplementary feed purchases. 

Feedback from participants was highly positive and the program has gone from strength to strength. It is now delivered annually by South West NRM and a range of partners including GeoCatch and Peel Harvey Catchment Council, via facilitators Jeisane Accioly-McIllree and Dan Parnell. 


Agriculture Stewardship Package (Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Pilot): The $22.3 million Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Pilot aimed to create a credible and sustainable market mechanism to improve biodiversity and create new income opportunities for farmers.

It was among a suite of programs tailored to the South West region under the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and Australian National University (ANU).

South West NRM was one of only six regions across Australia chosen to design and deliver pilots for valuing on-farm biodiversity. The results of pilots were used to develop the legislation and regulatory framework for the emerging Nature Repair Market

The Pilot puts a value on farm native vegetation, allowing farmers to diversify their business while building environmental benefits such as drought resilience and wildlife habitat.

Fencing, replanting, weed and pest control are among the activities funded by the Pilot. As well as helping to design the program, South West NRM undertook site assessments on behalf of the Department to assist with the assessment of applications. We’re also working closely with successful farmers to ensure successful project delivery.


Pasture Challenge: An engaging 12-month trial designed to help farmers understand their soil better for improved and pasture results with a sustainable approach.

Underperforming agricultural soils cost Australian farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue each year and the Pasture Challenge was designed to help farmers understand problems with their soil and how to address them.

Under the Challenge, four groups of farmers were tasked with creating their own agricultural package – a combination of preferred pasture varieties, selected pesticides and fertilisers and then applying any chosen treatments like deep ripping.


Improving pollination for farm resilience: South West NRM worked with canola farmers and orchardists across five years to develop tailored revegetation programs aimed at improving pollination rates. By identifying and attracting beneficial pollinators, farm businesses could become more productive and resilient to changing conditions, as well as enhancing habitats for native species.


To stay up-to-date on our work in the drought preparation space, subscribe to our monthly Sustainable Agriculture E-newsletter HERE