Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Collaboration
GROUND COVER COLLABORATION 8 SOIL & WATER IRRIGATORS CONTINUE TO improve their water use efficiency and productivity. Through collaborative investments in irrigation research, the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation (NPSI) is helping Australia find ways of saving water and using this limited resource in a sustainable and productive manner. The program is a collaboration between 13 organisations: the GRDC, the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, the Cotton RDC, Gascoyne Water Co-operative, Goulburn--Murray Rural Water Corporation, Harvey Water, Horticulture Australia Ltd, Lower Murray Water, Ord Irrigation Co-operative, the South Australian Research and Development Institute, the Sugar RDC, SunWater and the Western Australian Department of Water. This collaboration of government, irrigation authorities and primary producer bodies has been responsible for improved irrigation scheduling and application techniques, as well as other measures, which have resulted in significant water savings while improving productivity. The partners share many common research interests including investigations of soil factors, water scarcity, irrigation system modernisation, biodiversity in irrigated landscapes, economics and practical tools that are applicable to all irrigators. By working together there are certain efficiencies FLOW-ON EFFECTS FROM IRRIGATION RESEARCH Improving the productivity and sustainability of irrigation in Australia is the mission of a strategic cross-sector R&D program By Guy Roth and synergies, which help optimise returns from R&D investments. Grain growers using irrigation can learn from growers of more intensively irrigated cotton and horticulture crops. At the same time these industries can learn from the grains industry about issues such as managing limited water. The Water Smart Cotton and Grains project is an example of this two-way flow of information. This project is measuring and benchmarking cotton and grain crop water use on farms. Irrigators can use this information to improve the efficiency of their systems. There has been a strong component of training and farm field demonstrations to assist those who are changing practices. Another project funded by the GRDC aims to provide growers with best-practice guidance on how to integrate traditional irrigated rice and cotton production with irrigated and rain-fed grain crops. Adoption of research is at the core of NPSI and the recent launch of the publication Irrigation Essentials provides case studies to demonstrate how research and good ideas may be adopted. The publication, which can be downloaded from the NPSI website (npsi. gov.au), includes information on irrigation enterprise establishment and management, irrigation methods, business management, creating a water budget, scheduling and monitoring, and agronomy and soil considerations. To be successful, irrigators need to have at least adequate performance in all these areas. The document is a useful reference for irrigators and those involved in policy-making, agribusiness and research. It is a snapshot of some of the latest research and development that is leading to improved technology and enables the sharing of knowledge and practice change across all agriculture commodities and horticultural industries. Other NPSI projects are underway that will have value across a number of rural enterprises concerning technologies to reduce evaporation from large water storages, fertigation, irrigation scheduling, preparation of irrigated agriculture for climate change, and a review of precision irrigation techniques. The program is currently leading the development of a new vision for irrigated agriculture in Australia and its R&D and extension to improve further collaboration in the sector. □ GRDC Research Code LWR00007 More information: Dr Guy Roth, program manager, National Program for Sustainable Irrigation, 0417 223 179, firstname.lastname@example.org. au; Irrigation Essentials is also available from Ground Cover Direct, free phone 1800 00 99 88, email@example.com Pictured at the launch of the publication Irrigation Essentials are (from left) Bruce Finney (executive director of the Cotton RDC), Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke, Guy Roth (NPSI program manager) and Andrew Parkes (Keytah farm manager and NPSI management committee member). WORKING TOGETHER HELPS OPTIMISE RETURNS FROM R&D INVESTMENTS.
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