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Border check (flood) irrigation system

Border Check or ‘flood’ irrigation is the most common irrigation system in northern Victoria. This type of irrigation distributes water via open irrigation channels to irrigation ‘bays’ which are defined by small earthen ‘check banks’. Border check irrigation can be efficient on suitable soils, with appropriate layout and good management. Efficient irrigation is applying the water required by the pasture/crop for optimal growth with a minimum of water lost through deep drainage beyond the roots or excess surface runoff.

The design and management of an efficient border-check irrigation layout depends on many interrelated factors, including:
– Soil type (clay, loam, sandy)
– Soil infiltration rate
– The slope of the irrigation bay
– The length and width of the bay
– The hydraulic roughness of the bay surface
– The flow rate of water applied, and
– The time/duration that water is applied for and time of cut-off.

What is good border check irrigation management?

Good irrigation management for border-check system means irrigating quickly (ideally less than 4 hours per bay), irrigating when required (when evaporation (E) less rainfall (R) is 50 mm for most soils) and providing sufficient drainage.

There are six things that influence how fast a farmer can irrigate pasture:
– Available flow rate from the irrigation supply system
– Channel construction and structures
– Bay outlet size
– Weeds or dense pasture restricting water flow
– Height of irrigation bay compared to height of water in the channel
– Soil moisture deficit at the start of the irrigation.

What are the consequences of poor border check irrigation management?

Poor border check irrigation management and drainage can lead to an increased risk of water logging and impact production negatively. On light/sandy soil the effects of poor irrigation management may not be as visually obvious. However, on these soil types there is a greater risk of water being wasted. The water can infiltrate through the soil profile, out of the reach of the roots. This can contribute to raised local watertables and cause salinity and waterlogging problems in adjacent areas.

For further information refer to Agnote:
Border check irrigation design
Irrigation system selection and design guidelines

For further information contact:

Agriculture Victoria
Irrigation Officers
Kerang – (03) 5473 0180
Echuca – (03) 5482 1922
Tatura – (03) 5833 5222

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