Analysis of the project estimates the radar will benefit western Victorian agriculture by up to $3.5 million annually, primarily through more effective use of crop inputs.
Victorian agriculture minister Jaala Pulford said the exact location of the radar was yet to be decided, but said the Government had been in discussions with the Yarriambiack shire, centred on Warracknabeal in the northern Wimmera.
Farmers across the Wimmera and southern Mallee are delighted with the announcement, having pushed hard for close to a decade for a radar to fill in the black spot in accuracy between the existing Mildura and Mount Gambier radars.
“This is the most significant investment in production infrastructure that I’ve seen in this region in my lifetime,” Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and northern Wimmera farmer David Jochinke said.
“The farming community has been crying out for this project for years.”
He said the radar would allow growers to make better decisions regarding inputs such as fertiliser and herbicide.
“Finally we’ll be able to check the radar to see what rainfall is over the horizon, so we can make real time decisions based on real time information,” he said.
Wonwondah, south of Horsham, farmer Jason Pymer said it was welcome news.
“It will be good to have a more accurate idea about rain bands.”
He said he hoped there was further investment in moisture risk management.
“I would like to see some work done on helping farmers use moisture probes and other risk management tools.”
The radar will be built with $5 million from the Victorian Government and $3.25 million from the Federal Government, which is responsible for funding of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) which will manage the radar weather station.
Ms Pulford said the State Government funding was in response to strong lobbying from farmer and community groups.
“We have worked closely with the Wimmera Development Association (WDA), with the VFF and with Birchip Cropping Group, just to name a few, on this project.”
Last year, the Victorian Government provided a $15,000 grant for the WDA to establish a business case to have a real-time radar in the local regional area.
Local Federal member for Mallee Andrew Broad has also been a staunch supporter of the project and was delighted the State Government will contribute.
“This is great news for the Wimmera - once the radar is up and running, it will provide real time weather data.”
“The Wimmera is a major agricultural region and the radar has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits.”
Mr Broad said agriculture would not be the only beneficiary from the radar.
Better weather forecasting data would also generate a range of other commercial and public benefits covering emergency management, water resource management, tourism and aviation, he said.
The Bureau of Meteorology will choose the site for the radar and will be responsible for the build, operation and maintenance of the radar station.