Background

Natural Disaster Resilience Program: Floods

COURSE CONTENT

The Natural Disaster Resilience Program is proudly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the 2017 – 18 Natural Disaster Resilience Program.

The project enabled a joint collaboration between the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Farmers’ Federation and its member groups, Growcom and Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation.

Ten primary producers were identified to participate in the project, selected from a range of tree crop producers, vegetable growers and dairy farmers.

Industry extension officers assisted producers to develop mitigation and resilience management plans for their individual properties; and consultants featured in this online course, provided technical advice to further develop flood mitigation strategies for the property and farm business.

The project outcomes being improved understanding of the impact of flood on farm properties, and prioritised risk mitigation strategies for farm businesses.

The online course is designed to deliver these learnings across industry sectors to assist primary producers better manage the business risks associated with flood, and provide practical management options to mitigate risk and better manage future responses to natural disasters.

QFF Course Introduction

Lesson Overview

This section provides an overview of the project and asks a set of questions to enable farmers to consider their risk and resilience to flood.

  • A brief outline of key terms including risk and resilience Identifying priorities for your farm business
  • Collaboration between industry and government to improve resilience to flood disasters
  • This course will enable you to establish the foundations for long term flood resilience by developing targeted mitigation and management plans that are tailored to your property.

Key Questions

  • What have you done differently since the last flood?
  • What changes have you made to diversify your business and spread your risk?
  • What do you priorities when minimising business disruption?

In the answer to these three questions lies the key to developing long term resilience for your farm business. Down below you will find the QFF Disaster Plan. Feel free to download the plan to explore the process for swift disaster recovery.

Horticultural Industry

Lesson Overview

This section identifies industry-specific issues, challenges and approaches to building a resilient farm business in relation to flood.

  • Specific flood risks for your industry.
  • An understanding of potential challenges in building flood resilience on-farm.
  • Pathway for flood preparation and resilience activities.

Plan For a Disaster

You cannot trust yourself to make a good decision while stressed or in a post traumatic state of mind. Its important to have your plan written down and stored in a place that is readily accessible to anyone on farm.

Results of Decision Making When Stressed

  • Poorer problem solving skills
  • Less verbal, more visual
  • Reduced flexibility and lateral thinking.
  • Simplified emotional associations, rather than logical.
  • Judgemental – jumping to conclusions.

Stress can be good for emergency survival although its not so good when it comes to planning long term for business resilience to natural disasters.

Reduce Stress by:

  • Taking some time out from the cleanup. Set a time each day to finish and walk away from the job.
  • Spend time with family, friends and colleagues to take your mind off the event.
  • Turn of all media when your winding down for the day. Take some time off to do the things that you enjoy. This will allow you to think clearly when planning for the future.

Have a disaster plan for during and after the event itself. Make sure that your plan has been written down and incorporates what you have learnt from past disaster events. Once completed store your plan in a safe place and make it available to everyone on farm. The Growcom disaster tool kit mentioned in the video can be found in the right hand column.

Dairy Industry

Lesson Overview

This lesson will provide an overview of the disaster process within the Dairy industry as well as a few key things to consider during flood events.

  • Minimising flood risk
  • Increasing on farm resilience
  • Improvery the recovery process as well as the rate of recovery

Key Themes for Recovery

There are a few key themes to really consider during the disaster recovery process.

These themes include:

  • Labour units and farm accessibility.
  • Emergency reserves (cashflow & feed)
  • Fence recovery
  • Animal health and welfare
  • Generators (indpendent power source)
  • Cultivation – loss of topsoil
  • River/creek bank erosion.

Its important that you understand and comprehend the outcomes from the last flood event. Ensure that your business is building back stronger by improving on infrastructure such as feedpads, loafing sheds and improving laneways. This will ensure that your animals are kept out of the wet conditions improving their overall health.

Flood Mapping

Lesson Overview

This section provides an overview of spatial data mapping available to primary producers and the capacity of a flood map to inform preparation activities.

  • How mapping and information developed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can provide valuable information about the likely impact of flooding in Queensland.
  • The various types of flood maps and their fit-for-purpose.
  • Resources that are available to farmers that may assist in your own flood resilience planning

Queensland Flood Mapping Program

The Queensland Flood Mapping Program is designed to provide fit for purpose maps to a variety of stakeholders. One of the tools that has been developed as part of the project is the FloodCheck Interactive Map. The softwtare enables you to explore the flood maps available for your specific region.

The maps outline historic flood lines as well as the likely extent of flood plains within your specific region. The software also enables you to access reports as well as basin and town flood studies to aid in determining the flood risk for your farm.

Queensland Globe

Queensland Globe grants access to hundreds of spacial data layers as well as having the option to upload your own data to improve the accuracy of your flood research. Leverage the extensive layers of data at your fingertips to guide your resilience strategy. Identify potential risk areas for your farm by using topography and vegetation layers combined with historic flood data.

Australian Flood Risk Information Portal

The Australian Flood Risk Information Portal provides spacial data and flood studies. This resource comes in handy when you require flood mapping information for areas outside of Queensland.

Flooded Soil Fundamentals

Lesson Overview

This section provides an understanding of soil health and nutritional issues to consider when flood impacts productive farm land.

  • General findings from the project from participating farms.
  • An understanding of nutrient deficiencies and consequences on production and yield.
  • A set of management activities to help replenish and enhance soil health in response to a flood event.

Impacts of Floods on Soil Health

A prolonged presence of flood water can have incredibly negative impacts on the long term health of soils. This project aimed to explore those impacts across a variety of different production systems. The lack of oxygen combined with an influx of elements external to the system can cause a variety of issues for both short term and longer term soil health.

Tests were conducted on paired sites for each farm at depths of 0-10cm & 10-60cm. The analysis carried out included pH, organic carbon as well as both macro and micro nutrients.

Testing Results

  • With areas that were affected by floods there was up to a 50% reduction in organic carbon levels. This identifies a significant impact on the long term sustainability of flooded soils.
  • The calcium magnesium ratios were influenced by the floods in 30% of sites. This has significant impacts on soil drainage as well as the occurance of soil crusting.
  • In 70% of the sites Phosphorous was lost both at surface levels as well as at depth. In the surface layer up to 120 mg/kg of P was lost as a result of floods.
  • Up to 60% of sites suffered from losses of potassium ranging from 9-246 mg/kg in the 0-10cm range and 11-222 mg/kg in the 10-60cm range.
  • Up to 70% of the sites saw Zinc losses averaging 6 mg/kg.
  • Copper was also lost as a result of floods potentially proving costly if not accounted for in the following season.

Conclusion

When managing flooded soils its essential that soil tests are carried out prior to sowing the next crop. It is best to test at surface level as well as at depth in order to gain an accurate picture of your soils health. It may also be worth testing for any foreign pests that may have travelled in the flood waters such as nematodes as infections can prove damaging to a newly established crops or pastures.

Flood & Errosion Management

Lesson Overview

This section provides an understanding of the effect of flood on land management and how to minimise floodplain erosion.

  • Findings of several property visits looking at flood issues
  • An example of dealing with floodplain flows – floodplain flow paths and impacts of flow velocities
  • An example of backwater flooding – slowly rising floodwaters

The Benefits of Floods

  • Floods can often play a major role in the establishment and maintenance of fertile flood plains. This promotes nutrient movement and cyling within the profile.
  • Floods are capable of replenishing ground water stocks as well as improving ground water quality.
  • Depositing fertile silt to improve soil quality.
  • Effectively restore wetlands and other habitats.

Living on Flood Plains

Even though there are quite a few benefits to living on a flood plain it doesn’t come without its disadvantages. During flood events the following risks may occur.

  • Lives may become endangered by fast flowing water.
  • Your property may suffer infrastructure damage as a result of the flood.
  • Weed incursion and erosion may become a regular issue if not managed.
  • The levels of arable land may be reduced.
  • Water quality may be affected as a result of floods.

When planning to manage flood plains and riverways its often important to take a holistic approach that encapsulates both the needs of the farm and the surrounding waterways.  When planning its important to understand the local flood behavior and to identify key risk areas when mitigating the damage caused by flood waters.

Finance & Risk Management

Lesson Overview

This section provides an overview of priority considerations for financial and risk management for farmers experiencing a natural disaster.

  • An overview of risk profile versus risk appetite
  • Considerations for preparation and immediate response activities
  • Three lenses of design, engineering and process model

Financial Information & Management Accounts

Your financial information & management accounts is not only your end of year taxation returns and balance sheets. They often also include your supply chain arrangements and production schedules. They will include everything that you need to effectively project out your forward budgets and to assess your budgets actual performance when preparing for the season ahead.

Risk Profile

Your risk profile is defined by the type of industry that you are in, your location and factors that typically impact upon businesses in your line of work.

Risk Appetite

Is your ability to manage the risks to your business. This often includes current business risks as well as any percieved risks to your business in the future.

The relationship between these two areas will play a major role in determining how resilient your business is to disaster events as well as your businesses ability to return to business as usual as swiftly as possible.

Landlord Relationship

The landlord is effectively the owner of the land & the fixed assets. These are often owned in individual names or as a trustee.

The Tennant 

The Tennant is the person running the business. Tennants can often vary from a soletrader to a partnership, a company or even a trustee for a trust.

The tennant and landlord relationship is incredibly important when preparing for a disaster as well as how you respond to a disaster.

RESOURCES

Explore the QFF website to receive regular disaster and industry related information.

Learn what the Queensland Horticultural industry has to offer on the Growcom Website.

Receive the latest news on the Queensland dairy industry by visiting the QDO Website.

Determine your level of climatic risk at Long Paddock.

Improve your farms long term resilience by leveraging applied science at DAF.

Track the latest weather trends and forecasts on the BOM website.

Horticultural industry
Dairy Industry
Flood Mapping
Flood & Erosion Management