Storage and reuse scheme utilizing a lateral move irrigator construction

Department of the Environment, 2014

Lachlan Catchment Management Authority

On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program Case Study

Lateral move irrigation system during construction phase

Location: Forbes, New South Wales

Australian Government funding: $436, 700 (GST Inclusive) Round: One

Project: Storage and reuse scheme utilising a lateral move irrigator construction

Water transferred to Commonwealth: 499 ML

Project began: June 2011

Project completed: January 2013

Evan and June Baillie with Farm Manager Mick Cantwell run a 4000 hectare property at Forbes, New South Wales, where they grow winter crops on 2000 hectares and use 200 hectares for summer crops of corn and lucerne. The remainder of the property is used for native and introduced pastures that support 400 head of Angus breeders and followers.

In 2011, Evan received an On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program grant from the Australian Government to put towards the construction of a storage dam and reuse system with a lateral move irrigator to maximise production during dry periods. As a result of the upgrade, Evan has saved 3.7 megalitres of water per hectare.

Maintaining productivity was an important factor in the project to increase the farm's financial sustainability. "By having a more consistent production level, the financial strain is reduced," Evan said.

"The project will allow the production units to continue and be profitable in low allocation years. We will now use less water for similar or better levels of production."

The flexibility and effectiveness of the new storage system and mechanised system allows Evan to be more productive in other areas of the farm thanks to time and labour savings.

"We've also increased the farm's environmental sustainability by having a greater ability to manage the land in times of drought, we can continue production without impacting on the land," Evan said.

The storage system has reduced the soil saturation levels, the risk of runoff or salinity significantly.

Lift pump

The project has generated considerable interest in Forbes and its benefits have extended to supporting the local community.

"Because we can sustain permanent employees, the flow on effect sees these employees using local businesses and facilities," Evan said.

The water savings generated from on-farm projects are shared between the irrigator and the Australian Government. The government returns its portion of the water savings to the environment to protect and restore rivers, wetlands and other environmental assets in the Murray-Darling Basin. This will help 'bridge the gap' to the sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The 'gap' is the amount of water that needs to be returned to the rivers and wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin to restore its health and underpin its industries.

As a result of the infrastructure upgrades undertaken on Evan Baillie's farm, 499 megalitres was transferred to the Australian Government for environmental watering and will hopefully be used to benefit local assets in the Lachlan Catchment such as Merrimajeel Creek, Lower Lachlan Swamps, and Merrowie Creek-Tarwong Lakes.

More information about the program is available on the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program web page or by calling 1800 218 478.