Sustainable farm irrigation systems.

Executive Summary

Having completed a degree in agriculture I am aware of the importance of soil health and had started modifying the way we approached crop establishment, mainly with direct drilling autumn forage crops, and then moving into the cash crops. We had also invested in irrigation.

I had become involved in setting up a sustainable cropping group, with which the regional council were also involved. The group was concerned over wind erosion, water use and trying to sow into peat and timber to establish crops without ploughing.

LandWISE was formed and successful in gaining a Sustainable Farming Fund grant.

The three study topics were all major concerns of the group with a focus on vegetable crops and maintaining profitability if the production system was changed.  We had already experienced difficulty with establishing super sweet sweet-corn under reduced tillage systems yet knew the benefits gained by the soil from reduced tillage farming practices was well documented and proved by many.  With world leading technology available in NZ for use in this area my main aim was to look at management issues and systems.

The water issues were also of concern, with the public perception about irrigators wasting water on windy days. What constitutes an efficient system?  How do we allocate water to irrigation in limited reserve areas?  All of these are critical issues when water is seen as a limited resource.

Sustainable Farm Irrigation Systems – Hugh Ritchie

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