Shallow groundwater is a valuable water resource used by many irrigators across the GMID, particularly in times of low water allocation and high water prices.
Careful planning and management is essential for maintaining aquifer quality and avoiding the negative impacts of irrigating with saline water on crop or pasture yield and soil structure.
What do you need to consider when using groundwater?
Get your groundwater tested regularly, before and during the irrigation season. The recommended maximum salinity of irrigation water used on perennial pastures (while clover/ryegrass mix) growing on loam soils is 800EC.
Use groundwater earlier in the season when temperatures are milder. The ability of pasture to handle saline irrigation water is made worse by high temperatures. Avoid irrigating with groundwater at germination time.
Prevent the build-up of salts in the root zone when using groundwater. The periodic application of gypsum will help leach salts and maintain soil structure.
Maintain soil fertility on pasture irrigated with saline water. It can help you keep your clover productive. If the clover population is severely impacted by salinity, additional nitrogen fertiliser may be required to maintain productivity.
Don’t over-pump your aquifer. Continually running your groundwater pump at rates above the aquifer’s potential to recharge will increase the risk of drawing in more groundwater from adjacent aquifers which could be of higher salinity.
For further information refer to Agnote:
- Irrigation with saline groundwater in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District
For further information contact:
Tatura – (03) 5833 5222
Echuca – (03) 5482 1922
Kerang – (03) 5473 0180