Software program helps farmers plan for drought

Published 25 August 2006

Giving farmers the tools to plan for drought is the aim of a new suite of software programs developed in collaboration with Michael Whelan, a Southern Cross University lecturer.

StockPlan, launched today (August 25) in Orange by the NSW Minister for Primary Industries Mr Ian Macdonald, consists of three integrated software tools designed to assist producers minimise the environmental and financial impacts of drought.

It will help farmers answer key drought management questions about feeding costs and destocking options.

Mr Whelan, a lecturer in the University’s School of Environmental Science and Management, has developed a range of software packages to assist farmers during droughts in the 1980s, 90s and now during this latest drought.

He said the software allowed farmers to model the various options for their livestock during a drought and take a more planned approach to the long-term impact of climatic changes.

“The program looks at profit margins, feed options and energy costs. For example, it can show the farmer how long it will take them to recover if they sell breeding animals during a drought,” Mr Whelan said.

“My job was to make the program more user-friendly. It is now also more accessible as it is a stand-alone program.

“For the good farmers these sorts of programs have reinforced what they have already been doing, but for a lot of other farmers it enables them to objectively assess different strategies.”

Speaking at the launch Mr Macdonald said StockPlan used the latest computer technology to help answer management questions.

“The decision tools within the StockPlan program will enable our sheep and cattle producers to better explore their management options in both the early stages and throughout the duration of drought,” Mr Macdonald said.

Information about StockPlan is available from

Media contact: Brigid Veale SCU communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.