Weather affects just about everything you do on a farm and is a major topic of conversation with any group of farming people.
We all have an opinion on the weather - has it been hot or cold, wet or dry; windy or not.
But our perception of the weather can be very subjective, and it can be very useful to have some more objective information to compare.
Fortunately, these days we have a wide range of online information sources and tool to analyse the weather which can help us be more objective.
These web sites and Apps present data in a range of formats but all the various tools draw on the data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) are custodians of the weather and climate data collected for well over a century from the hundreds of weather stations located right across Australia.
The BoM site has a vast amount of information and tools to help you access and analyse these records.
In most areas of the country you will be surprised to find that there is weather data recorded at a location with very similar climatic conditions and often quite close to you.
The location of all recording sites can be found at www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/#mapoption.
This page shows the locations where conditions are recorded, and you can select a location which best suits you.
It can be useful to compare a few of the closer sites and identify the one which has records which are likely to be most relevant to you.
You can then analyse the data yourself.
There are a lot of very handy functions on the BoM web site that are a great way to help you get an objective picture of the current and past weather conditions.
Looking at past weather, use the maps of recent, past and average conditions which can be found at www.bom.gov.au/climate/maps.
On this page you can look at rainfall, temperature, humidity and solar exposure.
Making good use of the maps on this page, you can zoom in to your location, select what type of data you want, and select the season you want to evaluate.
You can select an earlier period to compare weather between two or more years, which will give you a much more objective picture of the conditions.
Forecast weather conditions for up to the next three months are provided in the page climate outlooks - weeks, months and seasons.
This can be found at www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/overview/summary.
On this page you can look at rainfall and temperature, and zoom into details for your local area.
This will give you a summary of the coming season forecast, the probability of above median and the probability of exceeding a total rainfall or median temperature.
It is well worth spending some time finding which weather station has records which are most relevant to you for analysing the local weather data.
The BoM data and tools are so easily accessible and powerful they can really help with making decisions on the farm.
Having a good understanding of weather and climate can put the landholder in a much better positions to make decisions about farm operations.
Managing the risks associated with decisions about crop and pasture establishment; fertiliser, weeds, pest and disease control; buying, selling or breeding stock all depend on the weather.
Tocal College has an AgGuide publication available called Managing climate risk on your farm.
This AgGuide gives a great overview of the systems which influence our climate and will help you better understand what is happening with the weather.
Tocal also offers and online course called Develop climate risk management strategies which can also help develop the skills needed to make better decisions.
Information on this course can be found at www.tocal.nsw.edu.au/courses/online-courses/develop-climate-risk-management-strategies