Farming Forecaster Tasmania – Supporting Farmers for Drought Resilience

The ‘Co-developing and improving digital tools for increased drought resilience with, and for Tasmanian farmers’ project aims to support drought-affected farmers with tools to improve drought resilience.

The increasing occurrence of drought in parts of Tasmanian including the midlands, Derwent catchment and Tasmania’s east coast has significantly reduced seasonal ground cover. Without adaptive measures, these declines will lead to increased soil erosion and soil carbon loss, and a decline in viability of dryland grazing systems. This project aims to help address some of these issues by supporting farmers with more responsive planning tools to improve dryland pasture management decision-making.

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Our Approach

The project is working with farming groups on the east coast and Midlands to look at ways to improve drought-resilience by;

  • Working with commercial farmers at demonstration sites in the Midlands and east coast for pasture renovation and establishing winter forage crops
  • Hosting themed field days
  • A pilot to deliver the decision-support tool Farming Forecaster.
  • Establishing dryland soil moisture probe sites and a Tasmanian platform on the Farming Forecaster website
  • Providing forecasting workshops and training in the use drought-resilience tools, including training in Farming Forecaster.


Dryland pastures comprise the majority of agricultural land use by area in southern Tasmania and support a significant amount of the state’s wool production. Incorporating some of Tasmania’s driest locations, with an annual average rainfall of less than 550mm, many of these areas have unpredictable rainfall patterns and are increasingly unreliable in times of drought.
Across these drought-prone landscapes, seasonal ground cover is reducing in some areas. This causes adverse outcomes for soils and can lead to land degradation, erosion and topsoil loss. Once degraded, landscapes can take a long time to recover. Without intervention, climate change and drought are likely to increase the risk of further declines in ground cover and the associated adverse effects on natural resources.

One of the most crucial decisions for livestock producers is determining how much grass they can grow in a season and then applying the appropriate stocking rate. Getting this right is key to effective ground cover management, which in turn protects the soil and supports improved drought resilience. Tools and strategies that assist farmers to make more informed decisions relating to stock and feed in a changing climate are essential to ensure the viability of our agricultural systems into the future. There are currently a range of grazing support tools available to producers with varying capabilities and functions, one of which is Farming Forecaster.

Farming Forecaster is a publicly available decision support tool for graziers. It was developed by multiple farming systems in NSW in close conjunction with CSIRO. This risk management tool provides a road map for pasture growth and livestock performance and comprises two key components. The first is soil moisture probes and rain gauge sites, situated in dryland pastures on participating farms, providing real time data on soil moisture, soil temperature and rainfall. The second is a pasture forecast showing likely pasture growth trends and availability for the next 3-4 months for each location. This information is generated by the decision-support tool GrassGro – a farm simulation model for pasture growth. Weather information is also provided and all key data is displayed in an easy to interpret format at

Farming Forecaster Sites

  • We are undertaking the State-wide roll out of up to thirty new Farming Forecaster sites, which includes soil moisture probe sites, in all major drought-prone areas of Tasmania. This will allow for access to a wide-range of growing conditions to assist both farmers and advisors

Improving Accuracy

We are working to improve the accuracy of the forecast in Farming Forecaster by undertaking planned innovations to the model that informs the pasture forecast, bringing more Tasmanian data on pasture species and local growing conditions into the platform.

Case Studies

We are developing case studies that assist farmers in making informed stocking decisions around feeding, selling and agisting to improve drought resilience.

Key Milestones

Establishing a network of up to 30 Farming Forecaster sites

Developing 4 case studies on drought preparedness

Delivering a 2 year Farming Forecaster training program

Supporting farming discussion group sessions

This project is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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Thanks to our project partners

This project is supported by NRM South through funding from The Australian Government's Future Drought Fund, Drought Resilience Soils and Landscapes program