Irrigation assessments to help Carnarvon growers save

The WA Department of Agriculture and Food is offering fruit and vegetable growers in Carnarvon (WA) free on-farm assessments of their irrigation systems, including pump performance testing, in order to improve efficiency.

These will be conducted from 26 August to 1 September as part of the department’s More Dollars per Drop project.

Department development officer Tilwin Westrup said there were a limited number of openings available and urged growers to register by 1 August.

Mr Westrup said 31 fruit and vegetable growers participated last year and these growers have received their reports on the efficiency of their irrigation system and its use.

“From the feedback we’re getting, the growers found the assessments and reports very useful,” he said.

Mr Westrup said growers were using the correct irrigation systems for both the environment and the crops grown.

“However, significant savings could be achieved by matching irrigation scheduling to crop water requirements, increasing the sub-mains in drip line blocks to reduce pressure loss, and matching pump operation to shift size and mainline capacity,” he said.

Vegetable grower Van Thanh said he had changed his scheduling, and even though this year’s crop has not been picked, the plants are looking better than last year.

“The report findings confirmed my observations of uneven plant growth in one of the test blocks,” he said.

“I will be following the recommendations that include extending my mainline, and reduce the drip tape length in some parts of the test block.

“I would encourage others to have their systems tested and benefit from the advice the project is offering for free.”

Assessments have two parts – an interview with the grower about their irrigation schedule, pumps and production that takes a couple of hours, followed by tests to measure performance.

“The aim is to identify opportunities for growers to improve water use efficiency,” Mr Westrup said.

Individual grower information will remain strictly confidential. Only ranges and averages of information collected will be supplied to industry groups for their use.

“On completion of the assessments and analysis of results, DAFWA will provide each grower with a report identifying ways to improve the productivity and profitability of their farm operations,” Mr Westrup said.

“The report will also enable growers to benchmark their enterprise against the high performing businesses in their industry.”

 

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