Farmer Rob Lee has survived the drought but his climate battle has just begun

Drought leads farmer Rob Lee to call for climate change action

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More trees, better protection of pastures needed

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NEWLY GREEN: Farmer Rob Lee on his Larras Lee property where the drought has finally broken. Photo: Supplied

NEWLY GREEN: Farmer Rob Lee on his Larras Lee property where the drought has finally broken. Photo: Supplied

For three years farmer Rob Lee endured the worst of the drought that has ravaged the land around Orange.

"It was like three droughts in three years. We've never had two in a row as bad as that," he said.

The drought, dust storms and bushfire smoke hung over his 1600 hectare sheep and cattle property at Larra Lee forcing him to sell off stock and feed what he could in a fenced off area of dust.

But earlier this year the rains finally came. Water gushed over the land greening all in its wake.

But Mr Lee, who's family has been farming in the area for 190 years, said he was determined to change the way he farms to combat climate change.

Mr Lee said the length and extent of the drought was an indication climate change was happening with the likelihood of less winter rain in the future. "I definitely think it is changing," he said.

Mr Lee said the region had also seen "fierce frosts" in recent years.

He said ice on the Bell River near his property was more like Canada than Australia.

Mr Lee said a key was to take far greater care of the land being farmed than has happened.

Change can be made and it's not necessarily all bad. - Rob Lee, farmer at Larras Lee

He said "haphazard management" had to stop.

"Sheep are really damaging to your pastures," he said.

Mr Lee said paddocks needed longer periods of rest between farming use.

VIDEO: Rob Lee on climate change

"We try to leave as much of the pasture behind as we can when we move stock on," he said.

Mr Lee said trees were a vital element for conserving the land.

He said since the 1990s he had planted about 5000 trees but now he planned to plant a further 10,000.

Many planted in 2017 died as the drought hit.

Mr Lee said among the benefits of trees were their attraction to birds which in turn could cut down on insects.

"I'm a great believer in bio-diversity," he said.

Mr Lee is one of three NSW farmers telling their climate story as part of the Climate Council's activities.

"I'm not lecturing anyone but what I am saying is change can be made and it's not necessarily all bad. Changes could be very exciting," he said.

Mr Lee said regional areas could benefit from renewable industries relocating out of capital cities.

The story Farmer Rob Lee has survived the drought but his climate battle has just begun first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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