Mixed bag for Tweed farmer as record rainfall ruins crops
WHEN the rains first started on Tuesday, Duranbah farmer Robert Quirk, like so many people on the Tweed was thankful.
By Sunday, he was thankful the deluge hadn't hit the upper reaches of the Tweed Valley which could have caused major flooding.
In the period of time since Tuesday, Mr Quirk records 650mm of rain with 302mm falling on Saturday.
The unrelenting downpour completely wiped out his crop of soy beans and has threatened his cane crops as well.
The beans were completely submerged and Mr Quirk said there was no chance of salvaging anything from it while the cane was still inundated.
"We need it to dry out quickly, you can't have the cane standing in saturated soil too long or it will have a significant effect of the crop," he said.
"It is fortunate that this rain event happened along the coast and not in the upper areas of the Tweed Valley because that would have caused some serious flooding," Mr Quirk said.
"We have been unlucky here but I think this may be the shape of things to come."
Widely respected for his climate-smart strategies and in dealing with acid-sulfate soil management, Mr Quirk said the recent weather events showed unequivocally that the science regarding climate change was correct.
"In my opinion, looking to the future, we will see longer dry periods followed by intense rainfall which will present challenges in agriculture," he said.
"Farmers will have to take measures to drought proof their farms and also invest in bigger pumps to deal with water.
"The loss of our soy bean crop was a bit of a double hit - one being the loss in income and secondly the bean crops enhanced the fallow soil and improved cane production by adding nitrogen."
Mr Quirk said the heavy rain had also taken a toll on Cudgen farms, especially in washing away rich top soil into the creek.
"To see such good productive soil running into the creek is a shame but I am not sure what can be done to prevent that, especially given the huge volume of rain we have had."