While many Wheatbelt farmers are celebrating a handy dose of sub-soil moisture ahead of this years’ seeding program after widespread rainfall last week, they are being urged to provide input on a new drought resilience tool. WA’s extensive sheep and grain growing region was last week selected as one of four regions across the country to take part in two Federal Government initiatives under its $5 billion Future Drought Fund. And growers are being invited to have a hand in both the design and testing of the new Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool and Climate Services for Agriculture assessment tool and database. The region has faced some if its driest seasons in history in recent years, with many farms receiving well below-average rainfall and gradually destocking as dams ran dry. While last week’s rain has set up some farmers for their best start to the the season in years — with some getting more rain in three days than during their 2020 growing season — they are being urged to keep drought “in the back of their minds” and take part. “Farmers tend to get focussed on drought when it stops raining,” WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said. “And with the recent rainfall it’s hard to imagine many would be prioritising drought right now but all farmers need to... always keep drought in the back of their minds.” “The one thing we know is that somewhere in the Wheatbelt won’t get much rain.” He said farmer feedback would bolster work already undertaken by agronomists and consultants and help “take risk management to the next level”. The DRSAT will be designed as an online tool allowing farmers to understand their individual climate and drought risks and identify where on-farm improvements could be made to increase resilience. The CSA — which will be designed by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology — will act as an interactive database comprising of climate information tailored for the agricultural sector, which farmers will be able to inform decisions and planning with a changing and variable climate. Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said farmers were “key” to the design and development of the programs. “Our farmers have a proud history and a wealth of local climate knowledge so it’s important we tap into their ideas when it comes to the design and testing of technology like this,” he said. “Providing farmers with the tools they need to be drought resilient is a key objective of the Future Drought Fund. These products will help farmers assess climate impacts on their farm businesses so they can make informed decisions.” Consultation began taking place this month, with the first phases of the programs anticipated to be in action by June 30.