A new $150million irrigation efficiency program has been released for NSW farmers to upgrade infrastructure and find more water for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the funding for the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program last week.
In exchange for money to upgrade their infrastructure, irrigators will relinquish 50 per cent or more of the water savings to the Federal Government for the environment.
The water will go towards the 2750Gl goal under the basin plan.
Mr Joyce and Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the funding would support 200 projects to deliver more efficient water-saving infrastructure across the NSW Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lower Darling catchments.
‘‘This latest round will build on the success of rounds one to four, which are already delivering benefits to more than 1340 irrigators across the southern basin,’’ Mr Joyce said.
‘‘Programs like OFIEP are a real win-win, allowing farmers to boost their productivity while also supporting a healthy basin environment.
‘‘Under this program, up to half the water savings generated by more modern and efficient irrigation infrastructure are kept by the irrigator, allowing them to take water that would otherwise have been lost through seepage, evaporation or over-watering and put it to productive use on their farm.’’
Graeme McDonald from Blighty, who received project funding under an earlier round of the program, reported a number of improvements, including producing a higher yield crop using less water.
‘‘Without the benefit of the upgrade to a lateral move system and the construction of a channel and drains, the best I could have returned was around 3tonnes/ha and that was applying at least three megalitres of water across the paddocks,’’ Mr McDonald said.
‘‘The first barley crop under the new system yielded 5.5tonnes/ha from 0.5Ml of water.’’