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access to water for plantations

  1. aramalap2

    3,747 Posts.
    On the 27/11/02 TIM announced the following:


    HOMEX - Melbourne



    What the Bureau of Meteorology describes as "serious to severe"
    rainfall deficiencies has affected a vast sweep of the country,
    extending from northwest Western Australia across the Northern
    Territory and northern South Australia to western Queensland, and
    further southward across most of New South Wales, the western half of
    Victoria and eastern South Australia. Parts of the southwest of WA
    are also affected, for the third successive year.

    University of Newcastle researchers say drought-affected farmers in
    Eastern Australia can expect to get significant rainfall by March or
    April 2003.

    The effects of the drought on Timbercorp may be summarised as


    The severe drought conditions presently recorded across much of
    Australia do not extend to the majority of Timbercorp's eucalypt
    estate, and the small areas affected have only been marginally

    Blue gums, like any agricultural crop, can be influenced by extended
    periods of low rainfall. Typically, low rainfall events result in
    slower growth rates, rather than the death of trees.

    Tree growth is strongly related to site characteristics, particularly
    depth of soil, soil water storage capacity and presence of
    underground water tables. Blue gums are known to access moisture from
    the soil at depths exceeding 10m and are thought to readily make use
    of ground water supplies. Hence, the impacts of periods of low
    rainfall can be at least partially off-set by carefully selecting
    sites that have deep soils with a high water storage capacity.

    Timbercorp employs a rigorous site assessment system wherein soil
    characteristics are established to at least 4m and long-term climatic
    data are evaluated. Sites are rejected that do not meet average
    annual rainfall requirements and/or which have shallow soils, or
    soils with poor water storage capacity. In this way, Timbercorp's
    forest estate is inherently 'buffered' against short-term water

    Tree crops, such as blue gums, are a long-term crop (8-12 years) and,
    as such, are likely to experience a variety of climatic conditions
    during the length of a single rotation.

    In some years, rainfall events may be below the long-term average. In
    other years, however, rainfall may be well above the average so that
    growth rates may exceed that achievable in an 'average' year. In
    effect, short-periods of drought in a tree's life can often be
    compensated for by periods of wet weather across the rotation length.

    Timbercorp is taking a proactive approach to addressing drought
    issues. We are presently a large funding partner to a major project
    being conducted by CSIRO which investigates how plantation blue gums
    utilise water. We will use the results obtained from the study to
    further improve our ability to avoid serious drought impacts,
    including through the development of improved site assessment
    techniques, spacing regimes and nutritional programs. Importantly,
    this project will provide Timbercorp with a capacity to model the
    impacts, both positive and negative, of rainfall events that deviate
    from average conditions.


    Timbercorp's olive groves and almond orchards are watered by
    state-of-the-art micro-irrigation systems. As the trees in each of
    the projects are not near maturity, we have access to sufficient
    water to meet all of our requirements for this season.

    It is worth noting that, even if we had not received our required
    allocation, horticulture is a high-value and intensive form of
    agriculture. Therefore, we are better able to absorb any costs of
    acquiring any temporary water (if required) than lower-value farming
    activities such as grazing or cropping would be.


    Over the irrigation season, which runs from 15 August 2002 to 15 May
    2003, the Goulburn-Murray Valley Water Authority announces each week
    a progressive water right allocation. Timbercorp receives an
    allocation of water to feed its olive grove expressed as a percentage
    of the permanent water rights that we own. We call this our 'water
    right'. We have already been allocated a sufficient proportion of our
    water rights to meet all of our requirements until May next year.


    In relation to our almonds, the Sunraysia Rural Water Authority has
    informed us that we will receive 100% of our water rights this year.

    If you would like to discuss any of these issues further, please
    don't hesitate to contact your local Timbercorp Manager on 1800 628

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