Water was on the agenda at a workshop hosted by Murray Dairy at Cohuna in April.
Facilitated by RMCG’s Daryl Poole, the message was clear - know where your business is sitting and know what your water needs are.
“Water is the foundation of the feed base, have a plan but be prepared to change,” Mr Poole said.
“Things could get better or they could get worse but you are giving yourself the best chance by getting autumn feed growing now.”
He said while there was increasing demand on water from other industries including almonds and cotton, dairy could still be competitive in the water market and many farmers were growing more fodder from less water as management practices improved.
“Unfortunately things are looking pretty tough moving forward and we are not delivering a great message this time. The timing of rain will be critical because there is no back-up left in the irrigation system after two dry years in a row.”
Mr Poole said continually assessing your options was important and while carryover had been used as a risk management tool in the past, “changes have been made this year and you can only carryover the combined volume of your HRWS and LRWS linked to your ABA, any extra is taken off you and put back into the communal pool”.
He said carrying water over allowed farmers to secure some of their needs for the next season, “but remember you lose five per cent of the volume you carryover and prices maybe higher now then next year”.
“It is also important to consider that a poor allocation year doesn’t mean everything is going to go pear-shaped. If we get rain at the right time and in the right areas we could still be in for a reasonable year hay and grain-wise.”
Goulburn-Murray Water’s Mark Bailey said his organisation would be doing its best to keep farmers updated with information as it comes to hand, so they can make informed decisions.
“We are in for a bleak outlook if these conditions continue but if we can get some consistent rainfall to wet things up before the peak inflow period things could turn around,” Dr Bailey said.
“Carryover water is an option but remember there have been some restrictions put on that so people can’t stack it away like they used to be able to.”
He also confirmed there would be enough water to operate the channel system come August 15.