Seasonal climate forecasts and pasture growth in northern Australia

Jaclyn N. Brown, Andrew Ash, Neil MacLeod

1 CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Hobart, Tas. 7001

2 CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Brisbane, QLD


In the semi-arid tropics of north-eastern Australia the ability to have a skilful forecast of the upcoming wet season and understand its effect on potential pasture growth would allow for more accurate cattle management decisions. Often forecasts of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are used as a guide to the wet season and potential pasture growth. However this relationship doesn’t always hold as many other factors come into play – including other modes of climate variability. Ideally a seasonal climate model coupled with a pasture model would incorporate a range of likely climate scenarios with the initial conditions of pasture quality to develop a decision tool. However to date, dynamical seasonal climate models have been limited in their skill to forecast the upcoming year at the paddock scale. A case study is conducted in the Dalrymple Shire to explore how effective ENSO is as a pasture predictor, determine the climate features relevant to pasture growth and evaluate the current skill of a seasonal climate model to predict pasture growth.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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