Whole Farm Planning and irrigation upgrades improve drought security

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Kevin Ward has been dairy farming near Maffra for over 20 years. During the recent drought Kevin applied for a Whole Farm Plan through the Agriculture Victoria incentives program.

The reduced availability and rising prices of irrigation water made his existing flood irrigation system uneconomical. The irrigation Whole Farm Plan is a blueprint for the future development and improvement of the farm irrigation system.

As a result of the Whole Farm Plan, and the support and advice of the Maffra Agriculture Victoria irrigation team and farm planner, Kevin was then confident enough to invest in farm irrigation upgrades.  This consisted of an irrigation reuse/recycle system and 11 hectares of best practice flood irrigation which means pastures can be irrigated more efficiently using less water in a shorter time.

Kevin is extremely happy with the result and is already thinking about the next section of his farm to upgrade in line with the new farm plan. The change in irrigation practices and the development of a reuse reduces Kevin’s water use on farm, as well as capturing and reusing his nutrient rich irrigation runoff on farm and reducing runoff and deep drainage losses to the environment including the downstream Gippsland Lakes.

Pasture growth before (left) and after (right) irrigation upgrades

Kevin was amazed at the huge difference made by the upgrades. “We couldn’t get water from the dam to the paddocks with an open channel, it just didn’t work. Now I can get water on and it’s taken those paddocks from virtually dryland paddocks worth $3000 an acre, to irrigated paddocks worth $8000 an acre.

Irrigation time has gone from 4 days to 14 hours, it’s so much easier to irrigate, and getting the water on and off quickly has made a big difference to pasture growth due to reduced waterlogging. It’s just great with the flow going down one bay, you can see the difference.”

Irrigation Incentives Changes in the Macalister Irrigation Area

Best practice surface irrigation upgrades in the Macalister ID

Irrigating in a dry season

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