Tackling salinity in the Goulburn-Broken basin was a key element of a presentation made to an international forum in the United States last month.SHARON WRIGHT July 22, 2014 3:40am
Goulburn Valley farmers with Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Goulburn-Murray Water staff looked at irrigation systems and salinity control programs in California.
A contingent of six — including farmers and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Goulburn-Murray Water staff — delivered the four-hour submission to Salinity Forum 2014 at the University of California.
Goulburn Broken CMA sustainable irrigation program manager Carl Walters attended the forum and said the impact of salinity and its threat to productive agriculture was a worldwide issue.
‘‘In our region, years of drought and a reduction in the watertables and irrigation has seen salinity placed on the backburner,’’ Mr Walters said.
‘‘Now with increased rainfall and irrigation, the shallow watertables have bounced back and with that the potential for salinity increases.
‘‘Salinity is a real threat to productive agriculture. If we’re irrigating land and not managing salinity we’re not irrigating in a sustainable way.’’
Mr Walters said adequate drainage and groundwater management was critical in managing the salinity risk.
He said the group’s presentation detailed the joint approach taken by national, state, regional and local authorities.
Information from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Goulburn Broken CMA and case studies of irrigation modernisation upgrades in the Shepparton Irrigation Region were outlined.
Katandra West dairy farmer Kevin Minogue was one of three local farmers who made the trip.
During the presentation he outlined steps taken on his property to control salinity.
The Minogues’ 160
They have undertaken on-farm irrigation works recently to capitalise on the improved service delivery from G-MW’s modernisation program.
Mr Minogue said heavy clay soils near his property restricted his ability to use a bore and pump to control salinity.
‘‘We have had to focus on getting irrigation water on and off quickly and ensuring there is adequate drainage so water isn’t pooling at the bottom of the bays,’’ Mr Minogue said.
He said impacts of salinity experienced on his farm were reduced pasture growth in some areas and salt residue in gateways.
Following the forum, the Goulburn Valley contingent toured several sites including Imperial Valley, an irrigation system which draws water from the Colorado River.
Tile drainage under the entire 200
Nanneella dairy farmer Peter Gibson, Cobram beef farmer Heather du Vallon, Goulburn Broken CMA sustainable irrigation program strategy officer Helen Murdoch and G-MW’s Mark Potter were the other local delegates.
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