Funding boost for irrigated agriculture

Grain Central, January 13, 2017

IRRIGATORS in northern NSW and Western Australia stand to benefit from a new round of funding for irrigation innovation and infrastructure development.

In NSW, irrigators with eligible entitlements in the Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi/Peel, Macquarie/Cudgegong and Barwon/Darling water management can apply for Irrigated Farm Water Use Efficiency Assessment (IFWUEA) funding to assist with infrastructure planning.

010917-irrigation-upgrade-funding-northern-nsw-picApplications in NSW are open until June 30, 2017.

The benefits of infrastructure upgrades include greater flexibility in crop choice, improved operational efficiencies, increased yields and enhanced water efficiency.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water, Niall Blair, said the program was an opportunity for northern NSW producers to build additional resilience into their business.

“Previous funding rounds have resulted in over 32 gigalitres of identified water savings, with 10GL retained by irrigators to boost on-farm productivity,” Mr Blair said.

The latest round of funding for the Sustaining the Basin: Irrigated Farm Modernisation program will recover non-productive water and share it between the environment and irrigators.

The Sustaining the Basin: Irrigated Farm Modernisation program is delivered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries with funding from the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use & Infrastructure(external link) program.

In WA, Water Minister Mia Davies has announced a $20 million competitive grants program to drive investment in innovative water use for irrigated agriculture.

Ms Davies said the Water Irrigation Innovation Grants program, which was part of the Water for Food program, would encourage new investment to support local industry development in regional, remote and rural areas.

“Funding of up to $5 million a year will be made available to encourage industry-led ideas that optimise the use of water assets in regional communities for high-value food produce,” she said.

“While innovation in irrigated agriculture has been happening globally for many years, Western Australia has been slower to embrace new technologies.  Israel’s productivity is twice the value of WA using one per cent of the land and five per cent of the water.”

WA Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said Royalties for Regions was investing heavily in agricultural development opportunities to increase economic stability and build sustainable regional communities.

“The Water Irrigation Innovation Grants program will address regional, rural and remote water challenges through innovation and technology, creating more opportunities for irrigated agriculture,” Mr Redman said.

“WA has significant opportunities to capitalise on the growing global demand for food and I look forward to seeing the considerable flow-on benefits for regional communities.”

WA Agriculture and Food Minister, Mark Lewis, said the program would de-risk projects through better water knowledge, leading to increased investment in both small and large-scale irrigated agriculture

“Funding will be considered for regional projects such as closed system technologies for horticultural enterprises, the development of feasibility and market studies, demonstration and infrastructure projects,” Mr Lewis said.

“Projects will need to demonstrate their capacity to leverage investment and how they will benefit the community, the region and the economy.”

The Water Irrigation Innovation Grants program is part of the Royalties for Regions Water for Food program.

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