Irrigation New Zealand

With climate predictions pointing towards a long hot dry summer, irrigators need to put in place management strategies to maximise their water allocations. Below are some tips that improve efficiency and increase the longevity of allocations.

  1. Calibrate your irrigator – Knowing exactly how much water your irrigator is applying is essential for making good irrigation decisions. A simple bucket test can accurately assess your irrigator performance. Understanding your system capacity and return interval is also critical.
  2. Minimise off target application – Look at where your irrigation is landing. Watering tracks, lane ways, and other non-productive ground wastes water. Off-target irrigation, such as watering public roads, is a prohibited in many districts. It’s also not a good look during a drought.
  3. Identify your soil types and estimate water holding capacity, field capacity and irrigation trigger points – Knowing how much water your soil can hold is key to successful irrigation scheduling. Knowing the locations of your different soil types within your irrigation area is also a powerful management tool.
  4. Schedule your irrigation – using soil moisture sensors or soil water budgets to understand when plants need irrigation and how much to apply is essential. For soil moisture sensors you need to measure and record all irrigation and rainfall events. For water budgets you also need to record daily plant water use (evapotranspiration).
  5. Adopt deficit irrigation practices – Deficit irrigation is a scheduling practice that keeps the soil water above the irrigation trigger point but does not fully recharge the soil to field capacity. This allows any rainfall during the irrigation season to be taken advantage of, minimising drainage losses from irrigation whilst maximising both your production and water allocations.
  6. Re-nozzle your irrigator – Reducing the nozzle sizes on your irrigator is an easy way to reduce application depths and tailor applications to a restricted water supply. This method will require input from your irrigation service company to avoid undermining the irrigation system.
  7. Prioritise crops or paddocks to be irrigated – By targeting irrigation to areas of higher production or higher value crops maximises your profitability during drought restrictions. Lesser production areas or lower values crops will have yield losses as these areas will suffer moisture stress.
  8. Reduce your irrigation area – Reducing your irrigation area increases the amount of water available per hectare, or helps to get the best from a restricted water supply. Targeting irrigation to more efficient irrigation systems or soil types increases water use efficiency. This may not be easily achieved under some irrigation system types, and may require so additional advice. More advanced irrigation system types, (e.g. VRI on pivots/linear), can target complex irrigation patterns within a single irrigation area.

For mid-season advice to help stretch out remaining water: click here

IrrigationNZ has a comprehensive resource library to assist irrigators to better manage their irrigation allocations more efficiently. We also offer practical irrigation training days that are highly regarded. For more information, contact IrrigationNZ on 03 341 2225.

NEWS

Free irrigation workshop for Bay of Plenty farmers

18th January 2018

Bay of Plenty dairy farmers have the opportunity to join a free workshop showing them how to optimise their irrigation use. The workshop will be run by IrrigationNZ and will cover how to assess how well irrigation systems are performing…… Read more

Irrigation Workshops – Marlborough and Tasman

7th December 2017

With challenging dry conditions continuing across the Upper South Island, Marlborough and Tasman irrigators will have the opportunity to find out how to be more efficient in their water use at upcoming workshops hosted by IrrigationNZ. “Understanding how to monitor….. Read more

Advice for irrigators over a long, dry summer

7th December 2017

With much of New Zealand experiencing exceptionally dry conditions, IrrigationNZ has some advice for irrigators on how to make the most efficient use of water over summer. According to NIWA, several areas in the South and North Island came close….. Read more

Irrigation a boost for communities

4th December 2017

IrrigationNZ supports Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones’s announcement that regional economic development funding could support some water irrigation projects. “Water infrastructure plays a vital role in creating resilient rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.  “Several New Zealand….. Read more

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management

23rd November 2017

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation. Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their….. Read more

EVENTS

Irrigation Efficiency Summer Programme

November 7, 2017 - February 28, 2018

                                 Is your irrigation equipment operating as it should? What improvements could be made? These are questions that can be technically challenging and costly. To help irrigating farmers navigate to Good Management….. Read more

Irrigation Workshop – Motueka

January 22 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Proudly supported by our training partners              Join us for a 3 hour workshop on Irrigation Scheduling Building on your knowledge of soils, water and climate, how to schedule water application and the tools available to….. Read more

Irrigation Accreditation

Smart Irrigation