Why Do Two-thirds Of Australian Irrigators Use No Objective Irrigation Scheduling Methods?
Free (open access)
95 - 103
K. D. Montagu & R. J. Stirzaker
There is significant pressure on irrigators to improve on-farm water use. A range of objective irrigation scheduling methods, such as soil monitoring, evaporation and decision support tools, have been developed to address this need. We examined how these tools have been adopted by Australian irrigators using data from an Australian Bureau of Statistics water survey of 7,280 irrigators in 2003. A total of 2.2 million hectare’s were irrigated in 2002−2003 with irrigated pasture accounting for 39% of the area irrigated and 36% of the water consumed by agriculture. Cotton, grape and fruit irrigators, who account for 27% of the water used for irrigation, are the biggest users of objective scheduling methods. But still only one quarter to a third of growers are using these methods. For most irrigated crops the use of objective irrigation scheduling methods increases with farm size. The exceptions being pasture and sugar, where the use of objective irrigation scheduling methods remains low irrespective of the farm size. The major users of objective irrigation scheduling tools are where enterprise profitability is directly linked to improved crop water management, such as cotton, grape and fruit production. Other industries, particularly pasture, will lag in the use of these tools because the profitability of their enterprisers is not as sensitive to water management. Until new drivers emerge then it is unlikely that these enterprises will invest in tools to improve irrigation management. With drought and increased competition water reducing allocations, and the increased focus on river and ecosystem health, we may be seeing some of the new drivers emerge. Keywords: objective irrigation scheduling methods, Australia, survey, soil water monitoring tools, evaporation.
objective irrigation scheduling methods, Australia, survey, soil water monitoring tools, evaporation.