Dubbo part of 'drought' area in new Department of Primary Industries technology

Concerning: A new NSW Department of Primary Industries system indicates drought has taken hold of a large part of Dubbo Regional Council and part of Narromine Shire Council, while other areas of the Central West zone are classed as 'drought onset' or 'watch'.
Concerning: A new NSW Department of Primary Industries system indicates drought has taken hold of a large part of Dubbo Regional Council and part of Narromine Shire Council, while other areas of the Central West zone are classed as 'drought onset' or 'watch'.

Drought is taking hold of the Dubbo district, a new high-tech system for assessing seasonal conditions across the state shows.

The new drought indicator unveiled by the NSW government on Wednesday signalled cause for concern in the region.

Land within the Dubbo Regional Council area is among the 7.5 per cent of the Central West zone described as being in drought by the new Enhanced Drought Indicator System (EDIS).

Another 54.4 per cent of the Central West is in the “drought onset” category.

The government has developed the system to give faster and more detailed seasonal conditions information enabling farmers to make better-informed decisions.

NSW primary industries manager Niall Blair said the EDIS drew on the latest remote sensing, satellite and climate data to provide a more detailed assessment of seasonal conditions.

The new system is updated daily, and shows a deterioration in the situation in the Dubbo district from earlier in the month.

The new combined drought indicator for the Central West zone. Source: NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The new combined drought indicator for the Central West zone. Source: NSW Department of Primary Industries.

​The remaining 38.1 per cent of the Central West zone is in the ‘watch’ category, with none of it described as ‘recovering’ or ‘non drought’.

Rural Assistance Authority director John Newcombe said the new system was an extra tool.

“Farmers know very well what the conditions are like on ground, when they look out their windows and drive around their paddocks,” he said.

“So we’re not suggesting they don’t know what’s happening on ground at all.

“But this is providing them with a look across the whole state of what’s happening in all areas, not just their own.

White Cliffs as encountered by NSW Farmers' Assocation regional manager Caron Chester this month. Photo contributed.

White Cliffs as encountered by NSW Farmers' Assocation regional manager Caron Chester this month. Photo contributed.

“So it’s very much, we see it as providing another piece of information to help them make informed decisions.”

He said from next month the next phase of the project would allow farmers to have input into the system and “really ground-truth” it.

NSW Farmers’ Association regional manager Caron Chester contested the season was worse in many areas than the new system showed.

“...areas they said that weren’t in drought, that were like a watch and wait, they are in drought and have been in drought for a long time,” she said.

She had been out to Cobar, Wilcannia and White Cliffs last week and it was “so dry it’s unbelievable”.

Farmers and graziers in western NSW needed soaking rain for days, she said.