Dairy Australia a partner in smarter irrigation project

By Jamie Salter

Dairy Australia is partnering with the cotton, sugar, grain and rice industries in a project to deliver new efficient water use technologies to Australian farmers.

More than half of dairy farmers nationally use irrigation, and farms in some regions rely on irrigated water.

A ‘smart irrigation’ project aims to increase average farmer profits by $20 000 to $40 000 annually by providing efficiency benefits.

As part of phase two of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project, the dairy industry has established 17 research and learning sites in dairy regions across Australia — many of which Dairy Australia helps manage.

Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said a collaboration of five rural research and development corporations, five universities and four governmental organisations underlined the importance of the project for Australian agriculture.

“Smarter Irrigation for Profit is one of Australian agriculture’s major collaborative investments — it will be a game changer for many dairy farmers who rely on irrigation,” Mr Nation said.

“Efficient water use is vital to sustain dairy farming in one of the most variable climates on earth.”

Dairy Australia is investing $1.7 million in the project, part of an overall dairy investment worth $7.7 million.

Dairy Australia Farm Profit and Capability Group manager Peter Johnson said Dairy Australia’s participation in the project’s first phase had shown opportunities for dairy farmers to reduce costs.

“The technologies we are trialling through our investment in Smarter Irrigation for Profit can really help farmers’ bottom lines, by reducing water and energy use and costs, maximising pasture growth, reducing labour intensity through automation and through improved utilisation of data,” Mr Johnson said.

“The sites involving local farms aim to increase farm profit for 500 dairy farmers through adoption of technologies and practices that improve water productivity and irrigation performance.

“This knowledge can then be made available to farmers across the country.”