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2.2.8 - Do I have / need sub-surface drainage?

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When water is applied by irrigation or rainfall in excess of plant water requirements, some of this can percolate down to the watertable. In the Shepparton Irrigation Region (SIR), the major source of accessions to the watertable is prolonged winter rainfall when plant water use is low. This can result in the water table rising, potentially causing salinisation if the watertable remains within 2 metres of the surface. Sub-surface drainage can control watertable depths and salinity. It can be achieved by installing either groundwater pumping systems, or tile drainage.

Sub-surface drainage is more likely to be needed with border-check than with centre pivot irrigation as the potential for accessions to groundwater is likely to be greater with border-check irrigation, depending upon the permeability of the soil. However, accessions due to rainfall occur under both systems.

If you are planning to use ground water as a source of irrigation water, you need to consider the quality of the water and its potential impact on the crop you want to irrigate and your irrigation system. See Step 2.2.10.

Incentives are available for landowners in the SIR for the installation of sub-surface drainage systems. There are two options for ground water pumping - private pumps or public pumps. Incentives are available for the installation of private pumps, where aquifers of suitable yield and quality for shandying for irrigation are found. Public pumps may be installed where the groundwater quality is too poor to be reused on the farm. For more information, contact the Department of Environment and Primary Industries Customer Service Centre, Echuca, Cobram or Goulburn-Murray Water (external link) Tatura.
      Photo: 2.2.8
      Groundwater pumps control watertables in some areas
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