In brief

Sunraysia region benefits from the largest irrigation upgrade in over 100 years

The Australian Government’s recently opened Sunraysia Modernisation Project is providing reliable, year‑round access to water combined with considerable water savings.

The replacement of open irrigation channels and inefficient irrigation methods used for cropping and horticulture, with pipelines and automated pumping stations directly benefits around 2000 irrigators across Victoria’s north-western Mildura, Red Cliffs and Merbein districts.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the $120 million project was already delivering for local irrigators.

“The completed project will generate water savings of at least seven GL annually in the Mildura region, while providing water access 365 days a year,” Minister Joyce said.

“Not only was work completed on time and under budget, but 23.9 kilometres of open channel has been replaced, 15.9 kilometres more than originally planned.”

One beneficiary, Kim Chalmers from Chalmers Nursery said, “We have doubled our nursery production. Peak demand for water for the nursery and our cuttings is during winter, so the security of water availability has already benefitted our business.”

 

Supercomputer to provide better seasonal forecasting

Progress is well underway on a $3.3 million Bureau of Meteorology supercomputer project to provide better seasonal forecasts.

The new seasonal forecasting service will deliver more localised forecasts, improving the modelling resolution from 250 kilometres down to 60km, and will also provide more frequent forecasts, updated weekly instead of monthly.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the project was delivering on the government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper commitment to give farmers more accurate, localised and frequent forecasting information.

National Landcare Programme under review

The Australian Government’s review of the National Landcare Programme is focused on the delivery of different elements of the programme. The review included a number of independent consultancies, internal analysis and a stakeholder survey. More than 400 responses to the stakeholder survey were received, providing valuable insights and feedback. Thank you to all those that participated.

The report of the review will be used by the government to look at opportunities for improvement of the remainder of the current programme and consider future investments in natural resource management from July 2018. The report will be released in 2017.

Giving our irrigators a well-earned COFFIE break

The pilot of a new Australian Government programme which aims to save water and improve farm efficiency and productivity through irrigation upgrades has been launched in South Australia.

The $15 million Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) programme aims to improve water use efficiency to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for Murray‑Darling Basin communities.

A range of irrigation enhancement projects will be funded in exchange for water savings for the environment. Projects need to generate a minimum water saving of at least two megalitres, and beyond this any additional water savings will be retained by the irrigator.

The pilot programme is the first in the next generation of programmes the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will deliver. It will be conducted in South Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin catchments before the launch of the full programme across the Basin in late 2017 through to 2024.

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