News

Incentive to help farmers use water more efficiently

By Rodney Woods

In a climate of record high water prices, it’s never been more important for irrigators to know exactly how much water to put on their crops.

The Victorian Government is offering an incentive to farmers in the Shepparton Irrigation Region who are keen to explore soil moisture monitoring equipment.

The pilot incentive scheme is designed to encourage farmers to invest in the equipment in order to improve their irrigation regimes.

Mooroopna farmer Michael Gaffy is participating in the pilot program because he was fed up the guesswork involved in irrigation, especially as the price of water continued to soar.

“Water is becoming more valuable and we are keen to make the best use possible of the available water,” Mr Gaffy said.

He said he jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the pilot because he wanted to be more precise with his watering.

“The equipment has only been in the ground for a few weeks but already I’ve been able to water my crops with more accuracy.”

Agriculture Victoria irrigation extension officer Rabi Maskey said research had shown that many irrigators lacked a clear understanding of how much water their crops required.

“With the price of water being as it is, it’s very important to apply the right amount of water,” Mr Maskey said.

“Under-watering leads to production loss and over-watering can have serious environmental implications.”

The incentive is being administered by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.

Goulburn Broken CMA’s Chris Nicholson said funds were available to irrigators within the region who had completed a Whole Farm Plan for their property.

“We’re offering up to a 50 per cent rebate on the cost of installing the soil moisture monitoring equipment,” he said.

“Irrigators can spend up to $10 000 and apply to receive $5000 back.”

Mr Nicholson said the technology provided increased certainty for farmers as the region faced a future with less water.

“It will help farmers refine how they irrigate,” he said.

“It’s not a cure-all for everything but it’s certainly another tool in their kit-bag to fine-tune their operation and hopefully increase production.”

For more information about the incentive, phone Rabi Maskey at Agriculture Victoria on 5833 5378 or visit: www.gbcma.vic.gov.au