Faster more efficient watering increases productivity
In 2017 Garry Wachter, owner and operator of a 400 acre milking farm with 154 a2 cows, applied for and received an a2 Milk™ Sustainable Agriculture Landcare Grant. The funds were used to implement a project to improve on-farm water use and efficiency by installing a pipe and riser irrigation system across the entire farm.
Located in Nannella, in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, the farm produces 34 percent of the feed inputs required by the herd.
In his grant application, Garry stated that changing from traditional farm irrigation practices to a high flow surface irrigation system will improve the efficiency of irrigation and achieve total water savings of around 20 percent across the farm. The project aimed to cover the irrigation system installation on nine acres.
The project had multiple objectives, including:
- Improving pasture quality, quantity and management to increase home-grown feed inputs to support the milking herd.
- Utilising lasering to assist in improving the flow should reduce time spent water, reduce irrigation channel maintenance and spraying and reduce runoff
- Reducing water times by implementing more efficient practices. Lasered land is shown to reduce watering time by 10-12hours and increase yield by 7-9% whilst increasing the water holding capacity and decreasing the permanent wilting point,
- Reducing fertiliser applications and run off promoting greater soil health and management.
- Helping to ensure the financial viability of the farm by decreasing operating and feeding expenses (water costs, fertiliser costs and feed input costs)
- Crop Quality: More efficient irrigation reducing the water logging on the paddock. The result was increased pasture production
- Pest Management: No spraying required around channels as the pipe and riser system removed the channels from the area. This results in less likelihood of pests invading the pastures.
- Erosion Control: The reduced water logging of the pastures improved erosion control on the nine acres lasered under this project.
- Time management: Less time is now being spent watering and maintaining channels.
Garry commented that “The pipe and riser system has proven to be an efficient method of watering and resulted in improved pasture quality and reduced watering time.”
Budget-wise, fully costing out of the project proved to be a valuable lesson as the project overran the expected budget by 50 percent.
Overall, the project achieved improving the environment through reducing run off as well as promoting better pasture management and growth.