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we need to become even more efficient, or create new irrigation
schemes in suitable regions, at significant expense.
In 2012/13, irrigators spent $263,396,334 on purchasing water for
irrigation, plus another $53,155,287 on purchasing extra water on a
permanent basis, and $91,927,404 on a temporary basis.
Irrigation systems that are not gravity-fed rely on power to move
water, and the increasing cost of this power is becoming a major
issue for many irrigated agricultural businesses.
The irrigation industry is one that is driven by new technology
and practices, and by the competition for this precious and finite
resource from population growth, other potential uses, and changing
climatic conditions. Increasingly, a typical agricultural operation will
access scientific research and the latest technology to deliver the
minimum amount of water required to obtain the optimal yield for
the business. It is not unusual to see a manager of one of these
businesses checking their smart phone or tablet to determine where
moisture probes are indicating a need for water, and directing the
correct amount to that part of the operation. It’s also not unusual for
a horticultural operation to be using ultraviolet (UV) or other water
purifying processes to re-use irrigation water and achieve zero
wastewater release from the operation.
The competing demands for water, as well as climatic changes, will
intensify over the coming decades, and the irrigation industry and
the Australian Government will need to invest heavily in irrigation
research and testing to remain at the forefront of improving water,
soil, energy and nutrient use efficiency.
Australia’s future, and the future of the region, depends on
Australia continuing to make gains in this area. With strong
investment and sensible management, Australia will become the
provider of high-value niche agricultural products to the rising
middle class of the region.
About Irrigation Australia Limited (IAL)
Irrigation Australia Limited (IAL) is the only national body
covering the entire value chain of the agricultural, horticultural
and landscape irrigation industry in Australia, and represents the
interests of Australia’s 25,000 irrigation industry professionals.
IAL is committed to achieving its aim of being the representative
body of a nationally and regionally recognised irrigation industry,
developing the professionalism, sustainability, profitability and
accountability of the Australian irrigation industry.
IAL is also the Australian representative body of the
International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).
ICID was established in 1950 as a non-profit, non-governmental
international organisation with headquarters in New Delhi, India.
IAL has been active in the areas of education and certification,
being a major advocate for recognising and building on the skills
of those working in the irrigation industry. It also has a major
voice at the federal and state policy levels, working closely with
various stakeholder groups to deliver sustainable outcomes for
The IAL was formed in September 2007 with the amalgamation
of two well-established Australian irrigation groups, the Irrigation
Association of Australia (IAA), and the Australian National
Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (ANCID).
Type of agricultural business
% of total applied (ML)
Cereal crops used for grazing or fed off
Cereal crops cut for hay
Cereal crops cut for silage
Cereals for grain or seed
Other broad acre crops
Fruit trees, nut trees, plantation or berry fruits 6.5
Vegetables for human consumption
Nurseries, cut flowers or cultivated turf
THE IRRIGATION INDUSTRY
IS ONE THAT IS DRIVEN BY
NEW TECHNOLOGY AND
PRACTICES, AND BY THE
COMPETITION FOR THIS
PRECIOUS AND FINITE
RESOURCE FROM POPULATION
GROWTH, OTHER POTENTIAL
USES, AND CHANGING
Water taken from irrigation channels
Water taken from on-farm dams or tanks
Water taken from rivers, creeks, lakes etc.
Groundwater (e.g. bores, springs, wells)
Recycled/re-used water from off-farm sources 113,625.6
Town or country reticulated mains supply
Total water used from all sources
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