Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: South Australian Riverland
Program: On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (Round One)
Funding recipient: South Australian Murray–Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
Water for the Future funding: $1.8 million
Project commencement: September 2010
Project completion: September 2013
The future is about sustainability and ensuring growers have sufficient capacity to adapt to a future with reduced water availability.
That’s according to Michael Cutting, from the South Australian Murray–Darling Basin NRM (SAMDBNRM) Board who said local irrigators are adopting new technology to save water.
The SAMDBNRM Board received $1.8 million through Round One of the Australian Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program to convert irrigation systems and improve onfarm water monitoring for greater water efficiency.
Completed installation of a new main filtration
unit at an irrigated vineyard at Berri, SA
“Whether it’s due to climate change or changes to the management of the Basin, the end result is that irrigators are very likely to have less water to work with in the future,” Michael said.
“We want to put in place new strategies that save water, to ensure irrigation properties are more sustainable and adaptable into the future.”
Many of the projects involve extensions to existing soil water monitoring networks and irrigation system upgrades have improved on-farm automation, fertigation and filtration equipment.
Twenty one irrigators are involved in the project in the SA Riverland region, which is expected to save 706 megalitres of water of which 355 megalitres will be returned to the Commonwealth. “We’ve put together some numbers and the water savings we’ve proposed are very achievable,” Michael said.
“With more efficient systems and the adoption of best practice management techniques, irrigated properties will require less water to produce the same amount of high quality horticulture.”
The majority of the on-farm works are taking place on wine grape and citrus properties, and Michael said the irrigation infrastructure works are not only important for the sustainability of the irrigated agricultural sector, but for the social fabric of the region as well.
“The area is very reliant on the irrigation sector, it underpins the local economy and provides major employment,” he said.
“It's a compelling reason for us to work towards ensuring the irrigation sector is vibrant and sustainable.” Work on the conversions began back in September 2010 with the project expected to be completed by September 2013.
Governments at all levels are working with Basin communities to achieve a healthy river system that supports strong and viable communities. Central to this is the strengthened involvement of local communities in the design and roll out of government programs.
The Australian Government is also committed to ‘bridging the gap’ between current water diversions and any final sustainable diversion limits in the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, through water savings generated by infrastructure investments and voluntary water purchases.
Upgrades being completed to a 150mm internal mainline at an irrigated vineyard at Berri, SA
Completed installation of a new main filtration unit at an irrigated vineyard at Berri, SA