Winter downpour bolstering dairy confidence across South Australia’s Limestone Coast


Limestone Coast farmers have welcomed drenching rains that came late but “with a vengeance”.

Dairy SA deputy chair Andrew Cavill — who farms near Bool Lagoon — said it was a “slow start to the season” in the usually moist south-east.

“[It was] a very late autumn break, but it’s now come with a vengeance,” he said.

It has been wet across the region over the past week, with the weather bureau recording 71mm at Mount Gambier, 49mm at Coonawarra, 48.8mm at Naracoorte and 37.8mm at Keith.

Andrew Cavill says the rains arrived late on his dairy farm.(

ABC Rural: Danielle Grindlay

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Muddy marvel

Mr Cavill said the rain, paired with strong milk prices, had bolstered confidence in the industry.

“The season looks good, milk prices are good,” he said.

“[The rain] came a little later than we would ideally like.

“If you ask us right now, it’s too wet. But, in a few days, it’ll be fine and we’ll be all good.”

Legs and boots standing in mud and grass
Parts of the Limestone Coast have received up to 70mm of rain in the past week.(

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside

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However, he said, the rain had done the opposite of dampening spirits.

“The dairy industry is in a very positive state at the moment, with very good opening milk prices and that looks set to continue for a few years,” Mr Cavill said.

Dairy cattle in south-east South Australia
Strong milk prices have bolstered confidence in the dairy industry.(

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside

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Aquifer recharging

At OB Flat — just outside of Mount Gambier — the season was shaping up well.

Dairy farmer Graeme Hamilton said it had been a mild summer and autumn.

“That really provides great comfort for cows, because they actually like [it] a little bit cool,” Mr Hamilton said.

“It hasn’t taken much to wet … the soil profile so that now we’re seriously recharging the aquifer again, which is our aim every winter.”

A man in a navy vest stands smiling at the camera with cows and green grass behind him
Graeme Hamilton says his farm has had “a couple of really good rain events”.(

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside

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Mr Hamilton said the underground water in the Limestone Coast put local farmers in a “unique position”.

“We can be very, very consistent with the quantities and the timing of what we do because we’ve got that resource and we can make things grow at the right times for the processes and for the market,” Mr Hamilton said.

“The great thing about our aquifer, or our soil structure, is that it only takes a few days and the excess [water] on the surface can drain through very nicely and go to recharge the aquifer.”

A group of cows on a lush green paddock, a truck travelling on the road behind the paddock
Graeme Hamilton says recharging the district’s aquifer is important for consistent milk production. (

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside

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“We’ve managed [the rain] really well. It has not all come in continuous [downpours] that have just gone on and on.

“We’re fairly blessed. Perhaps for some of those a little further north of us, the season has been a bit late starting for them, but we’ve been fortunate.”

Firm prices

Mr Hamilton said strong milk prices also made a big difference.

“The milk prices are a firm. They’ve held their value from last year, which is a very comforting thing,” he said.

“And also to those people in town who supply us our goods, the people [who] fit and install the irrigation equipment, the dairy milking equipment, the machinery to do our pasture work and things like that.

“They would all be reaping the reward of the consistent prices.”