Grain harvest code Working Group to review fire index

A Working Group has been established to review the ‘cease harvest’ threshold for grain harvesting in South Australia, with its first meeting to be held this week.

The Grain Harvest Code of Practice (GHCoP) most recently relied on a Grassland Fire Danger Index (GFDI) of 35. In the field, grain producers derive the ‘cease harvest’ threshold for grain harvesting at a working height of two metres.

As part of the national implementation of the Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS), the GFDI measurement is being superseded by the Fire Behaviour Index (FBI).

Grain Producers (GPSA) Chief Executive Officer Brad Perry said GPSA has been working with the State Government and South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) to review the proposed ‘cease harvest’ threshold of FBI 40 measured at a height of 10 metres.

“When the new FBI figure was first announced GPSA raised serious concerns with the calculations behind the ‘cease harvest’ threshold. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of GPSA, the implementation of the FBI as the sole threshold was delayed for the 2022 harvest,” said Mr Perry.

“From the feedback we received from grain producers during harvest, it is clear that FBI of 40 is not equivalent to GFDI of 35 measuring at a two-metre working height.

“Through this Working Group, we envisage an agreement will be reached on the ‘cease harvest’ threshold before the end of this financial year, giving grain producers time to adjust and prepare to use the new FBI in the 2023 harvest season.

“We welcome the establishment of the Working Group and look forward to providing input, evidence and data on behalf of South Australian grain producers.

“The majority of South Australian grain producers have demonstrated strong adherence to the voluntary harvest code under the GFDI of 35 and we want this commitment to remain under the FBI.”

The Working Group will be led by former South Australian Premier Rob Kerin, as Independent Chair, while GPSA will be represented by CEO Brad Perry and Eyre Peninsula Grower Director Peta Willmott.