Solar-powered pumps to reduce energy costs and sprinklers that can adjust the amount of water applied to suit the soil type are among 98 projects worth around $35 million that have been funded through the latest round of the Farm Water Program.
The projects are being funded through the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) Farm Water Program to assist irrigators to achieve water savings by improving on-farm irrigation systems.
Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman said more than 10,000 hectares of farm irrigation efficiency works are now under way across the region.
“By round’s end, there will also be over 13 gigalitres in water savings generated through these works – and it is great to see solar power making an appearance this round,” Mr Norman said.
“Irrigators know they need to have their farms as efficient as possible to meet future water and energy challenges. The Farm Water Program has been successfully helping farmers achieve this over the past six years – irrigators who have completed projects say that without the program, the works would not have been done.”
In addition, detailed analysis shows that irrigators who have completed Farm Water Program funded works see improved productivity of 2.3 tonnes of dry matter that equates to a $280 gross margin, labour savings of $140 and 1.8 megalitres of water savings on average, per hectare per year.
Mr Norman said Farm Water Program funding supported Goulburn Murray irrigators and communities to adapt to meet the challenges and opportunities of changes in climate, water availability, land use and global pricing pressures.
“These works improve our irrigators’ system efficiency and their ability to move to new crops and adjust to changing industry conditions,” Mr Norman said.
“The increased farm productivity, water saved and resulting benefits for the environment are invaluable to the region. The modernisation of our region’s irrigation properties creates jobs, provides food security and bolsters irrigator confidence. Without these opportunities, our irrigated landscape would look vastly different and the future less secure.”
Another key strength of the Farm Water Program is that its design is regularly reviewed. A review is currently underway to ensure the program continues to innovate to support a sustainable irrigation sector and deliver regional net benefits.
On-farm works undertaken through the Farm Water Program have ranged from the installation of pipes and risers, irrigation scheduling and pressurised systems, through to laser grading, gravity channel irrigation and drainage reuse.