After the rain

An increase in rainfall this year has pleased many of Western Australia’s farmers, with dams filling up.

The state’s largest reservoir Serpentine dam has increased by 23 per cent from last year due to the 154mm increase in rainfall, according to Water Corporation.

Yearly comparison of Perth’s rainfall. Infographic: Water Corporation.

President of WA Farmers John Hassell says the rain has been a blessing.

He says last year all of his dams were empty.

“All of our dams except for one this year are overflowing. I’ve never seen every dam on the farm do that.”

Mr Hassell also says the rain becomes a problem when bogging occurs and restricts the plant’s ability to take up nutrients.

“The majority of the crops are very good, but there are some areas where people didn’t get their crops in on time, and the rain absolutely destroyed them.

Rain around Curtin campus, while John Hassell speaks on the future of farming. Video: Duncan Bailey.

Senior climatologist from the Bureau of Meteorology Greg Browning says we’ve had favourable conditions for rain.

“There’s a lot of warm water around northern Australia, that’s often where the moisture for the rainfall over southern WA comes from.”

Greg Browning speaks on the bushfire threat heavy rainfall brings. Video: Duncan Bailey.

He says while it’s been a wet winter, it’s not the highest rainfall we’ve had on record.

“It’s hard to believe isn’t it? It was actually slightly below average this winter. It’s largely related to the fact there’s been rainfall decline over much of southern Australia.”

Mr Browning says the projections at this stage suggest drying periods will get worse.

“The southwest has certainly been affected in the last 50 years or so,” he says.

“There’s been a decline of about 20 per cent in rainfall since the 1970s across southern Australia, and that is part due to the warmer climate.”

When does rain become problematic for farms? Photo: Duncan Bailey.

In the face of climate change, Mr Hassell says the community is prepared.