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IrriGate newsletter, Issue 1 spring 2009

Sustainable Irrigated Landscapes - North East – Mid/Upper Goulburn Broken

Introduction: The team | Landholder grants | Soil Moisture Monitoring Equipment | Irrigation Planning | Irrigation System Performance Checks | Season start up

Introduction: The team

Welcome to the first quarterly edition of IrriGate a newsletter to update landholders on irrigation topics, present case studies and highlight services and grants in our local regional area.

The team - Sustainable Irrigated Landscapes

Dennis Watson

Irrigation specialist
DPI Rutherglen Centre
(02) 6030 4567
0429 304 567

Expertise: Irrigation system choice, irrigation economics, soil moisture monitoring equipment, irrigated fodder crops and pasture grazing management. Career span 16 years.
Dennis Watson
Dennis Watson

Ian Gamble

Catchment Management Officer
DPI Wangaratta Centre
(03) 5723 8671
0437 362 620

Expertise and job role: Agriculture - irrigation, pastures, grazing management, cropping, salinity, drought management, whole farm planning and revegetation. Career span 15 years.
Ian Gamble
Ian Gamble

John Hunter

Catchment Management Officer
DPI Benalla Centre
(03) 5761 1664
0419 363 572

Expertise and job role: Agriculture - pastures, salinity and revegetation
John Hunter
John Hunter

Wendy Paglia

Project Support Officer
DPI Ovens Centre
(03) 5731 1206

Expertise: Project administration - grant payments, database management, field/event coordination and promotion. Career span 7 years.
Wendy Paglia
Wendy Paglia

For more information please contact at DPI Rutherglen Centre on (02) 6030 4567 and to subscribe to the newsletter by email contact

Landholder Grants

Grants upon application are available in the North East Catchment. Grants in the mid and upper Goulburn Broken Catchments’ are yet to be confirmed. Grants available for;
  • Purchase of soil moisture monitoring equipment - 50 per cent cost reimbursement up to $4,000 per landholder
  • Implementation of an Irrigation Drainage and Environmental Plan (IDEP) - 50 per cent cost reimbursement up to $4,000 per landholder

Soil Moisture Monitoring Equipment (SMME)

Sustainable Irrigated Landscapes offers extension services and grants to assist landholders
  • Purchase the appropriate soil moisture monitoring equipment and software for your site
  • Assist with installation and data assessment
Soil Moisture Monitoring Equipment
Example tensiometer, one of the many SMME types

Irrigation Planning

Extension services are provided for improving irrigation systems. A full scale Irrigation Drainage and Environmental Plan (IDEP) with a topography and/or soil survey can be undertaken or it may be more specific to individual needs such as matching up irrigation allocations with an irrigation area and location on farm. Grant assistance is available.

Irrigation System Performance checks

It is relatively simple to check if your system is operating adequately.

An inadequate system will be costing you money, fuel, water and production.

We offer assistance with determining just how efficient your system is and offer advice and information for better performance or system upgrade.
A group of people watching an irrigation system performance check
A group of people watching an irrigation system performance check

Ready Set Go - Irrigate, don’t be late

It does not seem to take long before the irrigation season is upon us again, most likely because the reduced rainfall is making the irrigation season longer. It is crucial for irrigation to start before the crop begins to get moisture stressed. With the failed springs we have been experiencing the previous few years, the time to start has been earlier. Disappointingly it is not unusual for farmers to be two weeks or more too late before even realising.

What does it matter if you are late?

The consequence of starting irrigation late differs depending on the crop type irrigated and the irrigation system used. Irrigated ryegrass pastures can suffer a yield loss of 65 kg of pasture per ha each day irrigation is delayed from the ideal start up time. This may not seem like much but consider if you are late by two weeks irrigating 20 ha this is a production loss of 18.2 tonne. Comparing this to hay at $250/tonne it is a loss of $4,500.

The above example is assuming once you do irrigate that you refill the soil to eliminate further stress. If you do not refill the soil you will continue to suffer yield losses. With spray irrigation refilling the soil profile may be difficult to do. Two weeks late you may have to apply 60 mm to refill the soil; yet your irrigation may only be able to apply 15 mm a day. Hence you have to run the system for five days straight, four to catch up and one to replace the loss over those four days.

Those on unregulated river systems have the incentive to start on time as it will maximise the amount of irrigation before rostering occurs and can ensure your soil profile is full before rostering begins.

How do you know if you are late?

There are a number of ways to gauge when the irrigation season should start
  • Dig a hole and feel the soil
  • Monitor weather patterns (evaporation and rainfall)
  • Install soil moisture monitoring equipment
  • Copy a neighbour who has soil moisture monitoring equipment
Don't wait for signs of plant stress, if it looks stressed you are too late


The IrriGate Newsletter - Spring 2009 - Issue 1 (PDF - 110 KB) and (DOC - 1.5 MB) is also available for download.
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