Irrigation water use: 2019-20 Victorian Dairy Farm Monitor results

Dairy cows in an irrigated paddock

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The latest Dairy Farm Monitor report shows that the 30 farmers in the North sample used a range of water strategies to manage the 2019-20 season. Surveyed farmers made the decision early to purchase feed because of the high allocation price, which continued to increase further until autumn 2020 from the highs seen in 2018-19.

With the high price of allocation water (refer to the graph) and continued dry seasonal conditions, some farmers chose to sell water and purchased feed.

Timing of the trading water was important

The recorded ( median price for allocation (temporary) water in 2019-20 was $550/ML in Zone 1A (Greater Goulburn) and $625/ML in Zone 7 (Barmah to South Australian border), but it was the timing of the water trades which was important. For the surveyed North farms, the price paid ranged between $90/ML and $695/ML.

Some farmers purchased additional water later in the season to carry-over for the following year. The time of the decisions influenced the price they paid or received, e.g. in Zone 1A, the price of allocation water was around $700/ML in February 2020 compared to the price after April 2020 which was closer to $200/ML.

Irrigation water use decreased

Average irrigation water use on total irrigated area in surveyed farms in northern Victoria decreased from 5.7 ML/ha in 2018-19 to 3.1 ML/ha in 2019-20.

Median price of water from July 2019 to June 2020 in Victoria

Data Source:

The Dairy Farm Monitor Project is a comprehensive annual survey of 80 Victorian dairy farm businesses which is relied on by the Victorian Government and industry decision-makers. This project provides objective financial and production information to identify the links between farm inputs and costs, particularly for water and feed planning decisions required for sustaining farm profitability.

The Dairy Farm Monitor Project is funded by Agriculture Victoria and Dairy Australia.

Further Information

The latest report is available for download from the Agriculture Victoria website.

For more information contact Specialist Farm Business Consultant Claire Waterman.

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