Irrigated Pasture Systems Comparative Project – Stage 3

MLA - Horizon Farming, Dairy SA, South East Catchment Water Management Board

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This report will help to gain a further understanding of the economic and environmental benefits of strategic grazing management techniques and efficient irrigation management

What is the problem?

The lack of real and accurate data that farmers perceive to be relevant to them is often the limiting factor in farmers adopting change or new strategies regarding their enterprises

The focus of this paper is Stage Three of the project that includes the analysis of the data collected in Stages One and Two; and the development of case studies promoting best practice irrigated pasture management, irrigation techniques and irrigation design.

What did the research involve?

The objectives of the overall project are:

  • To identify and collect related water use, pasture and management data on differing irrigated systems in the South East.
  • To compare the data at each site, aiming to highlight the different management practices and relevant cost differences
  • To identify education and management gaps, and required information/programs
  • To source or develop information and education programs to assist in reducing or eliminating the knowledge gaps

Irrigated pastures have been intensively monitored over the past two irrigation (2003/2004 and 2004/2005) seasons  and both surface and overhead irrigation systems were targeted in the project

Stage 3,  takes into account surface, pivot and sprinkler irrigation systems over three irrigated pasture related industries, Sheep, Beef and Dairy spread throughout the South East of South Australia.

Thirteen properties took part in the irrigated pasture systems comparative project, on which 33 sites were monitored from the 24th November 2004 to the 11th May 2005.

These sites consisted of

  • 4 mixed sheep and beef sites,
  • 6 beef sites,
  • 13 prime lamb sites
  • and 10 dairy sites.

There were

  • 17 pivots
  • 15 flood irrigation sites
  • and only one permanent fixed set sprinkler monitored.

What were the key findings?

Stage three of the project demonstrates

  • The best irrigation system is a centre pivot producing 29.5 KgDM/mm, whilst the least performing is surface irrigation producing 1.7 KgDM/mm, a production difference of 1,735% and a profit difference of $3,151 per hectare
  • The lowest performing site is a beef enterprise on a flood irrigation system.
  • The highest performing site is a dairy enterprise under a centre pivot.
  • Lowest water use was from a Dairy enterprise using Overhead Sprinklers and grew a total production of 13,389KgDM equating to 28.6KgDM/mm.
  • Highest water use was from a sheep enterprise using surface irrigation and grew a total production of 5,226KgDM equating to 2.6KgDM/mm
2006 - Australia - MLA - Horizon Farming, Dairy SA, South East Catchment Water Management Board
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