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ATH TV: Water use efficiency in Australian agriculture

December 2, 2019


[THEME MUSIC] Hello, welcome to
About the House. Australian farmers have always
been hearty and innovative when it comes to
dealing with the often harsh Australian climate. But with the challenges of
an increasingly drier land, how we manage water usage
is more important than ever. The House Committee on
Agriculture and Water Resources is holding an inquiry
into irrigation water use efficiencies in
Australian agriculture. Committee Chair Mr. Rick Wilson
MP and Deputy Chair Ms. Meryl Swanson MP spoke about the
committee’s work so far. Well, as a nation, as we
move into a drying climate, we really need to extract
the maximum value out of each drop of water. So this inquiry is looking
at how the government can invest in water infrastructure,
and assist farmers and communities to make the
maximum value out of that water that we have available to us. We’ve learned that
Australian irrigators are amongst the best in the
world and the most efficient. But we’ve got to do better. And the government is
investing a great deal of money in
infrastructure and helping farmers and their communities
improve that efficiency and get the maximum value
out of every drop of water. Water use efficiency is vitally
important in agriculture. We know that we have some
of the world’s smartest, most efficient farmers. And that’s where water
use efficiency really comes into the entire
kaleidoscope of what we’re trying to do
here with this inquiry. The committee has visited
sites such as the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and
the Darling Downs to see how different
irrigation systems operate. It’s really been
incredibly interesting. Going down to the
Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area was an incredible experience
at looking at innovation and just how
committed, you know, many of the people in
the agriculture sector are, and also water
delivery down there. I think one of the key things
down in the MIA is that the organisation that’s
responsible for delivering water has really gotten
on board and said, OK, how can we improve efficiencies? But it’s not just
water use efficiency that is a concern,
with the energy costs of running these
irrigation systems also is something to consider. One of the things
that we’ve learned is that energy costs are
critical in irrigation economics. And of course, I think
it’s a no brainer that piped water or pressured water
is more efficient in a water use sense. However, the energy
cost is making that very difficult
for irrigators to extract that efficiency. The inquiry has already held
public hearings in Canberra, Toowoomba, and Narrabri
in New South Wales, and is calling for
further submissions from a range of people. We want to hear from
individual farmers. We want to hear from
community leaders. We want to hear from the
irrigation operators. And we also want to
hear from farm lobby groups and other interested
parties that can give us feedback on not just
what’s happening on the ground in terms
of irrigation efficiency, but the impact on the irrigation
communities themselves. We’ve been to a range
of areas so far. But we’d love to hear from
people from the River Lands in South Australia. We’d love to hear from people
from Northern Victoria. And also from Tasmania, where we
know that water is so critical. This is where the
inquiry would like to get some more information
about what’s happening. To find out more
about the inquiry, including how to
make a submission, visit aph.gov.au.wue. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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