When I drive around the countryside through countless hectares of vineyards I get to wondering how all those irrigators figure out when to water. I doubt they’re measuring stuff – the market for soil moisture monitoring equipment, as described by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suggests that less than 25% of Australian growers have any sort of monitoring gear at all.
Of course, there are many old dogs in this market too, and they know from long experience how and when to turn on the water.
So it was something of a surprise to hear from one such experienced grower on a shall-be-nameless-yet-famous vineyard just over the Victorian border from South Australia - he was ordering a Plexus system.
When I asked him why he needed it, after twenty years on the place, his explanation came as a surprise; he is increasingly ‘getting someone else’s weather’. This increase in uncertainty – after years of predictable weather patterns – meant that he needed to manage more carefully, and needed the tools to help him do so.
It is just this increase in variability that will make food production so much harder in a changing climate.
|Somebody else's weather?|