Newton, Queensland Agforce
Grains Ltd board member and farmer
Farming expert sets the scene
In February this year, the Wealth from Oceans Flagship
held the "Oceans to Rain" science workshop in Launceston. The aim of this
workshop was to discuss the science issues and drivers likely to affect
future directions of this research which is examining ocean based forecasts
of Australian climate.
The Flagship's science leaders attended the meeting and an invitation was
extended to Queensland farmer, Wayne Newton, to present at the workshop.
Wayne shared with the group his considerable knowledge and experience
regarding oceans, climate and farm management and followed this with his
letter to Queensland Country Life, which we have reproduced below.
Wayne Newton – farming visionary
Wayne is a farmer
near Dalby on the Darling Downs in SE Queensland and with his family has a
900ha farm growing dryland grain and cotton. Wayne, a pioneer in development
of minimum tillage farming technology in northern Australia in the early
eighties, has a keen interest in research and is on the Queensland Agforce
Grains Ltd board and is also a director on the Queensland Grain Research
Foundation. He has been a director and past chair of the Conservation
Farmers, and immediate past chair of the Darling Downs Research Advisory
An early believer in long range seasonal outlooks, this interest has seen
Wayne invited to travel to and address a committee of the American Academy
of Science in the USA. He has a keen interest in spreading sustainable and
profitable farming technology and promoting young farmers. Wayne is now
working to build a grower-owned ethanol plant on the Darling Downs using
sorghum to provide a more profitable outlet for grain and to supply a
sustainable liquid fuel.
Wayne's article on oceans and climate
The following is a
letter by Wayne Newton, published in Queensland Country
Life in February this year, about the impact of the oceans on our climate,
following his presentation at the Flagship workshop.
I recently presented at a CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship workshop
looking at updating the scientists in the divisions of CSIRO working on the
effect of climate change and climate forecasting with special regard to the
The exciting news is that a lot is happening. The oceans around Australia
are key factors effecting our weather, climate, and the changes that are
occurring will have large effects on our farming systems.
It is undeniable that global warming is occurring. The question still is how
much is due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and how much
is some larger global influence that is still far from understood.
We are seeing significant changes in climate in north east Australia, with
major drying out of much of Queensland, while the north of Western Australia
is receiving more rain.
Farmers will need to adapt to these changes, as it will lead necessarily to
major changes in crop types, time of year or planting, or intensity of
And these changes are happening now, with significant changes being
discovered within the past twelve months. On a concerning note, major ocean
currents that have huge consequences on global and Australian weather and
climate patterns are showing signs of major change. These changes have been
found in the North Atlantic, and recently confirmed in the Southern Ocean.
These currents are slowing down, showing significant changes in chemistry
(including increased acidity due to more dissolved carbon dioxide), and
No one yet knows the full implications or cause of these discoveries, and it
is looking like some these changes have been underway for up to several
hundred years, predating global warming from the greenhouse effect.
The one thing we do know is the change is happening and will continue to
IN THIS EDITION:
Message from the Director
change model in action
Southern Ocean impacts
fellowship for biofouling expert
scientists elected to Australian Academy of Science
expert sets the scene
MEET THE SCIENTIST:
Richard Matear, Climate Scientist for
Wealth From Oceans
Dr Richard Matear