Bushfire impact on farming

Colin Hinze

Recent major fires in all mainland states of Australia have resulted in substantial disruption and devastation to many primary production businesses. The level of damage sustained and the current circumstances of each business varies widely within and across each region, therefore there is not a one-size-fits-all formula for recovery. There is, however, a general approach that all primary producers can follow to manage the road back to normality.

Once the site is safe, and critical human and livestock needs have been addressed, the following steps can be followed:

Thoroughly assess the damage to your property.

  • Take lots of photos, and if you are using your smartphone, make sure that you enable ‘geotagging’ so that a GPS location is automatically linked to each of your photos
  • Make a list of buildings, machinery and infrastructure that has been damaged or destroyed, including water and irrigation systems
  • Estimate crop and/or livestock losses

Seek help from others.

  • Government agencies and volunteer service groups are often available to assist with cleanup and recovery activity
  • If possible, be very specific about what help you need, so that you have a better chance of getting it

Don’t forget your personal recovery.

  • Find some time to get away from the bushfire area, even for a few days, to recharge and refresh
  • Seek support to cope with the emotional impact of the fire and recovery process

Take time to consider longer term opportunities.

  • Can new fences be better located, or are they needed at all?
  • Should permanent plantings be replanted?
  • Can infrastructure be better designed and located?

Picture: Damaged vines, burnt posts and melted dripper line in a vineyard impacted by the Cudlee Creek fire

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