The irrigation industry in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Basins

1 Jan 2005

This study collates a hitherto scattered set of information on irrigation in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Basins and provides a 'bird's eye view' of irrigation in the south eastern part of Australia. Data indicating the size and position of irrigated production and its impact on both the regional resources and the dependent communities provide some indicators that illustrate where the opportunities for increased irrigated productivity are located and the conditions that are generally necessary for the opportunities to be realised. This study highlights that irrigated production generates a level of economic and community activity that is three to five times higher than would be supported from rain-fed production alone. It also shows that significant opportunity exists for further expansion and intensification of irrigated activity through improved water distribution and application efficiency, and through improved water productivity, largely mediated by improved management skill and controlled irrigation systems. The report provides a brief history of Australian irrigation development, an overview of current irrigation within the study regions, a description of people, production and income, and an assessment of the effect of irrigation practice on water and land resources. It also outlines strategies for linking irrigated productivity with the environmental resource, tools to help manage irrigation and resources, opportunities for increased productivity and greater connection within the irrigated areas and observations about the place and importance of irrigation in the Murray and Murrumbidgee.

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