Hours out of paddock could double under CFS Harvest Code proposal

Data from an extensive independent weather station network shows grain producers may be forced out of the paddock more than double the number of hours under a proposal from the SA Country Fire Service (CFS) to reduce the Cease Harvest Threshold.

Agbyte analysis of its sites shows that a GFDI of 28 at two metres (equivalent to approx. GFDI 40 at 10 metres) as proposed by the CFS would have resulted in significant time off the header during harvest.

For example, agbyte weather station data collected at Warnertown in the Mid North since it was installed in 2017 showed that 499 hours were over a GFDI of 35 at two metres but if the GFDI was set at 28 at two metres, there was almost 1000 hours over.

Grain Producer SA Chair Adrian McCabe said the CFS have severely underestimated the impacts of changing the current adopted practice by most grain producers.

“If the Minister for Emergency Services decides to side with the CFS and not grain producers, he will be choosing to take growers off headers for critical hours in harvest during times that have proven to be safe for more than a decade,” said Mr McCabe.

“The data analysis from Agbyte weather stations shows us that a GFDI of 28 at two metres (equivalent to approx. 40 at 10 metres) is unworkable if we want to get an almost $5 billion crop harvested without pushing into January and February, traditionally the hottest and driest months of the year.

“Grain producers in South Australia are some of the most well equipped in the country when it comes to preparing for a fire on-farm and this should be recognised, instead of the CFS putting forward proposals to punish growers for doing the right thing.”

The Agbyte analysis at its weather stations show:

Warnertown (Mid North) October 2017 to June 2023
GFDI 35 at 2m = 499 hours over
GFDI 28 at 2m = 967 hours over

Koongawa (EP) May 2017 to June 2023
GFDI 35 at 2m = 424 hours over
GFDI 28 at 2m = 765 hours over

Thomas Plain (YP) Nov 2017 to June 2023
GFDI 35 at 2m = 502 hours over
GFDI 28 at 2m = 758 hours over

Coulta (Coastal EP) November 2016 to June 2023
GFDI 35 at 2m = 128 hours over
GFDI 28 at 2m = 273 hours over

Grain Producers SA is the peak industry body representing the 4,500 grain farming businesses in South Australia.

For more information, visit www.grainproducerssa.com.au