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Fruitgrowers will get $5.5 million for efficiency program

Government gives fruitgrowers $5.5 million for On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program to continue delivering water savings through orchard modernisation.

DARREN LINTON December 14, 2012 10:40am

Fruit Growers Victoria will get a further $5.5million through the Federal Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program to continue delivering water savings through orchard modernisation.

The Gillard Government has announced a third round of the scheme, with $100million to assist 300 irrigators across the southern Murray-Darling Basin to improve efficiency and return more water to the environment.

Federal Water Minister Tony Burke said five regional organisations and irrigation businesses co-ordinated the upgrade of on-farm infrastructure. These were Fruit Growers Victoria, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Irrigation Efficiency Partners, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and Waterfind.

Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said the organisation already had a project underway utilising $6.3million granted under round two.

Round three funding would take to about 60 the number of farms that could be upgraded, he said.

‘‘The growers benefit greatly,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘They trade the water asset for an on-farm asset and they end up with a more efficient farm at a far reduced cost, they are then trading water they don’t need, you are not putting growers out of business, you are keeping them in business in a low water environment.’’

Present projects include automation, overhead irrigation, moisture monitoring and flood mitigation, with savings of about 3Ml/ha through more targeted use of water.

Mr Burke said the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program underlined the commitment to restoring the Murray-Darling Basin’s rivers and wetlands to health while supporting strong regional communities, and ensuring sustainable food production.

‘‘These are the sorts of projects that provide social and economic benefits for communities in the Basin,’’ he said.

‘‘The infrastructure upgrades and improved water efficiency will allow irrigators to enhance farm production and invest in other parts of their enterprises and the water savings from the projects will benefit wetlands and river environments across the Basin.’’

The Commonwealth will receive a projected 36.7Gl of water entitlements from the irrigation efficiency projects.

‘‘This is an example of how government, industry and communities are working together on win-win projects that help achieve long-term reforms in the Murray-Darling Basin,’’ Mr Burke said.

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