Research and Development
"We support research to help us develop"
Every year through a development levy, our shareholders contribute to research and development that will benefit irrigators. We leverage those funds to obtain additional research support from Land and Water Australia, the Dairy Research and Development Corporation, Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the State Salinity Council. We also work closely with the Department of Water and the Department of Environment.
In recent years, our research has included the following projects:
Changing irrigation in the Harvey Irrigation Area
A project under the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation, examining issues of on-farm water use efficiency, farm productivity, environmental impacts, whole farm planning requirements and water supply planning with the adoption of sprinkler irrigation for dairy pasture.
The final report can be accessed here - NPSI Final Report
Soil salinity mapping for the Collie Irrigation District
Electro-magnetic tools were used to map surface and sub-surface salinity across the Collie Irrigation District which is supplied from the Wellington Dam. The resulting maps showed 'already saline' and 'at-risk areas'. Aerial photography was supplied with this mapping to help farmers with farm planning.
Surface water quality in the irrigation district
This 3-year project measured the quality of water entering and leaving the irrigation district. It confirmed that summer irrigation, is not a significant factor in raising the nutrient load of run-off from the area. The nutrient load, while still higher than desirable, is winter-driven and a consequence of farming low-lying land that is extensively drained - winter run-off gets away quickly taking nutrients with it.
Nutrients in drainage
We supported post-graduate students from Murdoch University to do a detailed analysis of sub-catchment nutrient levels in drainage in autumn and winter. Some hotspots were discovered and resolved by the appropriate agencies.
Sub-surface drainage and automated irrigation was installed on a Benger property (Department of Agriculture project) and pasture productivity was measured. The result - there was definitely an economic benefit, with a big saving in time and nutrients as well as increased water use efficiency.
Crop production - new crops for this area
Trials have been carried out for pulses (including chickpeas and soybeans), sunflower, maize and cereals. There is a potential for pulse crops grown for seed, but more work needs to be done on cultivars suitable for this district. A promising cultivar of sunflower was selected by trials and showed oil yields suitable for margarine production.
Maize trials at Wokalup demonstrated that management was needed to produce this high energy cattle feed, but concluded that it was cheaper to buy in feed than to grow your own maize.
Persistence of white clover - rye grass pastures
We supported Department of Agriculture research at Wokalup on stressors to perennial rye pastures. These are very productive pastures in temperate climates but come under stress in our summer conditions especially with high stocking rates. The research trialed ways of improving pasture performance in our conditions.
Water use efficiency using moisture probes
This demonstration project was run by Peters and Brownes on one of their Dairy Focus Farms. One paddock was watered in response to soil moisture levels, the other at the usual time decided by the farmer. The first paddock ended up being watered more often (18 compared to 12 times per season but yielded more grazing and therefore more profit from milk produced.
Four weather stations were installed in the irrigation area to provide information useful for irrigation farmers. They give daily reports accessible via the this website - Here
Other projects supported:
Chilli and Paprika trials at Waroona
Soybean trials at Wokalup
Crop variety trials Benger and Waterloo
Radiometric measurement of soil to ground truth salinity results from EC work - Waroona
Economic analysis: impact of salinity on dairy farms
Sponsored visits of experts for local field days
Information transfer towards best irrigation management practice
Comparison of land and water values for horticulture in South West WA