The following is a guest post in our climate champion series by Andrea Hannemann
Name: Andrea Hannemann
Location: Cleve, South Australia
Role: Grain, prime lamb and merino wool producer
For fourth generation farmer Andrea Hannemann, climate affects farming every day. And it’s not just about whether rain comes today, tomorrow or not at all. It’s also about using long-term forecasts and outlooks to help predict the best outcome available for the year’s cropping program.
“Managing climate is so crucial to our farming community,” Andrea says. “We are going to have to work harder and smarter to produce great, healthy food, while maintaining a healthy environment.”
“Only 1% of Australia’s population are farmers, so we have a pretty enormous job ahead of us and we must do it well.”
Andrea and her husband Mark grow grains (wheat, barley, canola, peas and vetch) and run wool merinos and prime lambs near the South Australian town of Cleve.
“Every day, farmers are thinking, managing and making decisions based on climate. Every day, climate creates a high-risk business, financially and emotionally. Every day, the climate dictates what decisions are made.”
The innovative ideas that will help them stay sustainable might be new grain varieties or new technologies and the ever-improving climate forecast tools that are being developed.
Andrea and Mark have created their own innovative solution to decreasing rainfall on their property: a massive, jaw-dropping water collection system.
It’s a giant plastic sheet on a hill that catches every millimetre of rain (plus morning dew) which runs down to a plastic-lined and evaporation-covered dam. Cleve’s average rainfall of 400 mm can now net them 1.6 million litres of water.
The dam is now so efficient that it can replace the 40 others on their property. “It’s given us a self-sustainable, renewing water supply.”
“To me, sustainability in farming and agriculture is replacing what you take out of a system,” Andrea says. “Maintaining a balance for us and the environment is just so important. A healthy landscape produces healthy food. It really is that simple!”
Although she can’t control the climate, Andrea believes sustainability is about understanding and managing it as best she can, to ensure that she can farm into the future. Strong and viable farmers create strong, viable communities, she says.
Andrea is a part of the Climate Champion program. It’s a group of 34 farmers from across Australia who are interested in managing climate as best we can. The group meets and acts as a conduit between the researchers and the farmers, ensuring grass-root-level engagement.
It’s about farmers learning from researchers and researchers learning what farmers need to help them better manage climate variability. The individual farmers then feed this information back into their local communities, sharing best practice, latest research, knowledge and information.
“What’s so inspiring about this and these people,” Andrea says, “is that by sharing knowledge and best practice, it’s strengthening communities, keeping farmers sustainable in a varying climate.”
“It’s exposing them to the idea that we have to constantly change our ideas and practices to remain viable. It’s allowing them to adapt and adopt new farming methods and increasing their skill in climate interpretation and accuracy.”
Andrea is a farmer in the Climate Champion program, a group of farmers keen to communicate with other farmers about managing climate risk, and to researchers about what farmers need from research and development. You can also follow her on Twitter or read their water story on page 8 of this PDF.
Don’t forget to head over to the 1MW website for information on taking action against dangerous climate change! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au