Guides To Grow Irrigation Efficiency

NEW ZEALAND - Two new DairyNZ guides are available to dairy farms to help them use irrigated water as efficiently as possible.
calendar icon 7 November 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

There are significant financial and farm system incentives to use water effectively and the Guide to Good Irrigation parts 1 and 2 aim to help dairy farmers fine-tune their irrigation systems even further.

“Efficient irrigation is at the heart of many dairy farms, particularly in Canterbury, with significant financial benefits to use water as effectively as possible,” says Steve Lee, DairyNZ developer – productivity.

“They’re paying a huge amount of money to apply it, so there is no advantage in wasting it.

“When capital costs of an irrigation system of around $4500-$5000 per ha are calculated, the average 230ha irrigated Canterbury dairy farm can invest just over $1m in irrigation infrastructure.

“Depending on which scheme a farmer uses, annual costs for irrigation water can vary between $200-$700 per ha for their water to be delivered.

“Without including labour costs to manage it effectively, an average farmer can be running an annual bill of between $46,000 to $161,000 for water alone,” says Mr Lee. “It makes sense to care for every drop.”

Canterbury is estimated to have 400,000ha of irrigated land, including dairy, horticulture, arable and other pastoral farming (sheep, beef and dairy support farms). Dairy farms in total make up around 212,000ha in the region.

The DairyNZ Guide to Good Irrigation parts one and two are designed to help make efficient irrigation simpler on-farm.

“Setting up the farm system to make the best use of available resources, to apply the right amount of water at the right time, is the ultimate goal so water is not wasted. Good management and maintenance is vital to obtain benefit from this important resource.” says Mr Lee.

“Converting a farm’s irrigation infrastructure to more water efficient systems, such as centre pivots and soil moisture monitoring equipment, is also a clear sign that farmers are responding to signals they need to use water responsibly.”

The guides

Guide One covers all the components to good irrigation, including when to start/stop irrigating, correct water application, soil moisture monitoring, reducing water loss and system maintenance.

Guide Two covers managing the overall system, water supply restrictions, how to improve system efficiency and understanding the conditions of your water supply.

“As key regions for irrigation, we’ve sent the new guides out to dairy farms in Canterbury and North Otago, for farm staff and managers to use during the upcoming season,” says Mr Lee.

To order copies of the Guide to Good Irrigation parts one and two, visit

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.