Friday, March 02, 2007

Be water efficient and economically efficient too - use drip irrigation

Australia has had a VERY serious drought over the past 7 years which has resulted in drastic reductions in irrigation water availability for temperate regions in southern Australia. Many irrigation areas in temperate Australia were established over 70 years ago, using irrigation technology that is now considered water inefficient. In the northern areas where irrigated agriculture is common in the dry winter months [ April through October] water efficient irrigation systems are very common - T-tape, drip irrigation lines, water efficient under tree sprinklers and so on, mainly due to the need for prudent water use, and more recent establishment of the farms.

While some southern farmers have retro fitted water efficient improvements, this story is a clear cut example of what can be achieved in water efficiency, if you try.

Drip irrigation a 'quality investment' Thursday, 1 March 2007

Converting from overhead sprinklers to drip irrigation has proved a quality investment for Riverland grapegrower Tom Petch in coping with this season's 60pc River Murray water allocation. Mr Petch and sons Clinton, Tim and Ben, transferred to an automated control drip system on the majority of the family's seven vineyards, totalling 89 hectares, in Loxton North from 2001 to 2003. "All the mains lines were new so we just had to change sub mains, electronic controls and valves," he said. "It cost about $2500/ha plus the cost of the filter. "The result has been a 30pc reduction in water use in what Mr Petch describes as "a season underlying the importance of accurate irrigation". "Even when watering conservatively with overhead sprinklers, you need 7-8 megalitres/ha but with drip you can water quite well at 5mL/ha or less," he said. A 60pc allocation means the Petches have to irrigate at an average of 5.2mL/ha, factoring in 4ha of vines which remain on overhead sprinkler systems.
SOURCE: Extract from Shay Bayly article in the February issue of National Grapegrowers magazine, a Rural Press publication.

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