Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has recently announced a $14.25 million investment for upgrades to Victoria’s irrigation infrastructure.

Minister Joyce and the Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, announced the upgrades as part of the second round of the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project (VFMP).

Mr Joyce said the new round of funding would be used to upgrade irrigation infrastructure on approximately 60 farms in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District, which will increase efficiency and flexibility in water use on farms and deliver environmental benefits.

“These types of programs are a key element in our delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and effectively support the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes,” Mr Joyce said.

“Participants in these programs often find that benefits go beyond water use savings, for example by giving irrigators greater flexibility of crop choice, increased yield from crops and the ability to produce a larger crop from lower water allocations.

“For example, one irrigator, producing grain, sheep and hay crops who was funded under Round one has upgraded 190 hectares by installing semi‑automated irrigation and a water reuse system, and can now irrigate in one third the time and around 25 per cent less water. Input costs, run-off and nutrient loss are lower and crop yields have increased. The irrigation upgrades have allowed this farm to move away from growing mainly annuals to producing lucerne for the premium market.

“It”s a great example of positive environmental outcomes going hand-in-hand with genuine productivity and profitability benefits for farm businesses,” he said.

Minister Neville said the project would save water for farmers and the environment across 54,000 hectares in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District, and was expected to make an important contribution in delivering on Victoria’s commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“Victoria’s irrigators are innovative and forward-thinking, and I’ve been pleased to see this reflected in the project proposals we’ve received under the program,” Minister Neville said.

“Under this program, eligible works may include laser grading, drainage water reuse systems, automation of irrigation systems, conversions to pressurised irrigation, and replacement of farm channels with pipes and risers.

“The Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District is vital to the prosperity of the region and the State and we support these projects that lift productivity and achieve efficiencies in the sector.”

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