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Winter downpour bolstering dairy confidence across South Australia's Limestone Coast

Wednesday July 21, 2021 - 05:21 EST
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Dairy farmer Graeme Hamilton says there has been good rain on his property this winter.  - ABC

Limestone Coast farmers have welcomed drenching rains that came late but "with a vengeance".

Dairy SA deputy chair Andrew Cavill ? who farms near Bool Lagoon ? said it was a "slow start to the season" in the usually moist south-east.

"[It was] a very late autumn break, but it's now come with a vengeance," he said.

"On my farm last night, we got 35 millimetres of rain."

It has been wet across the region over the past week, with the weather bureau recording 71mm at Mount Gambier, 49mm at Coonawarra, 48.8mm at Naracoorte and 37.8mm at Keith.

Muddy marvel

Mr Cavill said the rain, paired with strong milk prices, had bolstered confidence in the industry.

"The season looks good, milk prices are good," he said.

"[The rain] came a little later than we would ideally like.

"If you ask us right now, it's too wet. But, in a few days, it'll be fine and we'll be all good."

However, he said, the rain had done the opposite of dampening spirits.

"The dairy industry is in a very positive state at the moment, with very good opening milk prices and that looks set to continue for a few years," Mr Cavill said.

Aquifer recharging

At OB Flat ? just outside of Mount Gambier ? the season was shaping up well.

Dairy farmer Graeme Hamilton said it had been a mild summer and autumn.

"That really provides great comfort for cows, because they actually like [it] a little bit cool," Mr Hamilton said.

"We've had a couple of really good rain events come through, one in mid-June, now again in mid-July.

"It hasn't taken much to wet ? the soil profile so that now we're seriously recharging the aquifer again, which is our aim every winter."

Mr Hamilton said the underground water in the Limestone Coast put local farmers in a "unique position".

"We can be very, very consistent with the quantities and the timing of what we do because we've got that resource and we can make things grow at the right times for the processes and for the market," Mr Hamilton said.

"The great thing about our aquifer, or our soil structure, is that it only takes a few days and the excess [water] on the surface can drain through very nicely and go to recharge the aquifer."

"We've managed [the rain] really well. It has not all come in continuous [downpours] that have just gone on and on.

"We're fairly blessed. Perhaps for some of those a little further north of us, the season has been a bit late starting for them, but we've been fortunate."

Firm prices

Mr Hamilton said strong milk prices also made a big difference.

"The milk prices are a firm. They've held their value from last year, which is a very comforting thing," he said.

"Solid, consistent opening prices really do make a lot of difference to our lives.

"And also to those people in town who supply us our goods, the people [who] fit and install the irrigation equipment, the dairy milking equipment, the machinery to do our pasture work and things like that.

"They would all be reaping the reward of the consistent prices."


© ABC 2021

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