Water for the Future Local Story
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011
- Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Water for the Future Local Story - Lachlan Catchment, New South Wales (PDF - 474 KB)
Program: On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency program - pilot project
Funding recipient: Lachlan Catchment Management Authority and Lachlan Valley Water
Water for the Future funding: $1,647,470
Project commencement: July 2009
Project completion: June 2011
Cotton on centre pivot on Riverview project, April 2010
A pilot project carried out on two farms in the central west of New South Wales is sparking the interest of local farmers keen to prepare for the future.
The $1.65 million On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency pilot project between the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority and Lachlan Valley Water is expected to deliver a total of 1295 megalitres of water savings, with 1038 megalitres transferred to the Commonwealth.
Mary Ewing, Executive Officer with Lachlan Valley Water said the project will create more efficient on-farm irrigation systems, generating water savings that have environmental and social benefits.
“It's all about delivering water onto the fields in a more efficient way, and increasing productivity from the same amount, if not less, water,” Mary said.
“It provides an alternative to straight out water selling particularly in smaller communities and ensures farms are sustainable in the long term.”
Mary said the projects are taking place near Forbes and Hillston with one farmer converting existing subsurface irrigation and flood irrigation to centre pivots.
The other farmer is making existing surface irrigation more efficient by installing an on-farm storage and tail water recirculation and installing pipe and riser technology.
“Both projects are going well with the storage project already completed and operational. The pivot project is also complete, with six centre pivots and associated piping and infrastructure installed. Both projects are undergoing evaluation.”
Merriment storage just after completion, February 2010
“Hillston is a town highly vulnerable to reduced irrigation activity,” Mary said.
“But if you can show people how to create a system which uses less water they can adjust, which then maintains the productivity of that community,” she said.
“Particularly in smaller towns, if you maintain the economic structure you automatically support the social structure.”
Mary believes the pilot project will also have far-reaching environmental benefits.
“Being able to get water onto and off a paddock quickly reduces water logging,” she said.
“Another benefit is that by only applying the water you need rather than applying excess water, means you're reducing the risk of soil salinity.”
Mary said the fact that other farmers in the district are looking at the pilot projects with renewed vigour is testament to the value of the project.
“Now that one of the farmers has put in on-farm storage there are now other farmers looking at that and saying maybe that will fit with our system and we can do that,” Mary said.
“It's exactly the pilot type situation – someone does it, someone sees it and it acts as a pilot for someone else to implement.”
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.
Cotton crop under new centre pivot on Riverview project, November 2009