Round three of the Irrigation Industry Improvement Program (3IP) has been announced, with $177 million now being offered across 186 River Murray-based irrigation projects.

More than $13million will be shared between 25 projects in the third round of 3IP, made available through the South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) Program.

Projects include new diversification into high value pistachios, the expansion of netting across citrus crops, a state-of-the-art hydroponic blueberry farm and the reactivation of dormant and unproductive land.

As a result of round three, an additional 56 full-time long-term jobs will be created in these River Murray communities, growing the overall estimated new jobs to more than 550 by the time 3IP finishes in mid-2019.

The latest round of projects will also see South Australia reach around 35GL of water ready to return to the River Murray – bringing the State to within 5GL of the program’s 40GL target for water recovery.

Projects to be offered grants in round three include:

  • ​The Wurst family, from Waikerie, intend to plant 64ha of drought and salt tolerant pistachios. In conjunction with diversifying to a relatively new and high value crop, they plan to install the latest irrigation technology across both their new pistachio plantings and existing grape vines
  • RNR Farms plan to expand their blueberry farm with a high tech hydroponic irrigation system. The project includes extending shade netting over the entire crop. This expands on existing water savings and fruit quality outcomes already achieved as a result of funding from their 3IP Round One project
  • A number of irrigators who have purchased currently unproductive land, with plans to install irrigation infrastructure and expand production areas of new and high-value crops for the Riverland.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said the $265 million SARMS program was delivering on its promise of supporting the growth of strong and sustainable irrigation communities.

“The Australian Government has committed around $13 billion over the period 2007 to 2024 to support the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan,” Mr Joyce said.

“This includes over $1 billion in commitments to programs in South Australia to support productive agricultural industries, strong communities and healthy river systems as part of the broader Murray-Darling Basin Reform.”

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston said the 3IP program was assisting South Australian irrigators to be more efficient and productive.

“3IP is the flagship element of SARMS and is supporting South Australian River Murray communities in their efforts to be better placed to respond to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and be more resilient to the effects of fluctuating water availability,” Ms Ruston said.

“SARMS is on track to achieve around $1 billion in broader economic benefits to the region.”

South Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell said the projects demonstrated how well the state’s irrigators operate.

“Our River Murray irrigators have led the nation in water efficiency. From capping their take from the River in the 1960s, to upgrading their irrigation systems during the 1980s and 1990s, they continue to be at the forefront of efficient production,” Mr Bignell said.

“The announcement of these successful projects today is further tribute to the river communities and Premier Jay Weatherill who worked hard to ensure this funding was secured.

“The 3IP has also helped many of the 186 irrigators to further improve irrigation efficiency and install new irrigation technology, which is saving them money and helped the SA Government secure over 85 per cent of our 40GL water target, at just halfway through the Program.”

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