Water Management

This module is designed to help you make efficiency gains by bringing together the latest research and knowledge on water use and management. Topics range from managing and measuring water sources and collection (storages, bores, overland flow and stored soil moisture) through to field distribution.

All aspects of water application are covered including surface irrigation, centre pivot and lateral moves, drip irrigation as well as dryland water usage.

Once you have completed this module to at least Level 2, you will have achieved the following:

  • Used available tools to schedule your irrigations and monitor soil water levels;
  • Estimated your soils capacity to hold and store water for your fields and soil types;
  • Estimated your losses from storages and channels;
  • Maintained your storages to minimise leaks and seepage;
  • Maximised crop yields by understanding and managing bore water quality;
  • Identified problem areas in irrigation fields;
  • Matched your flow rates to soil, slope and run length so furrows come out evenly;
  • Planned for and installed your centre pivot or lateral move with a professional so it works effectively;
  • Ensured your drip irrigation system is operating effectively.


Key Area: Water Management (Irrigation)

Information is recorded each season to help make better WHOLE FARM irrigation decisions

Check List:

Level 2

Plant Available Water Capacity (PAWC) and Readily Available Water (RAW) have been estimated for your soil types

Level 2

Irrigation Water Use Index (IWUI) for the farm is estimated and recorded (i.e Bales/ML of irrigation water)

Level 3

Gross Production Water Use Index (GPWUI) for the farm is calculated and recorded

Level 3

Water Use Efficiency is estimated (using IWUI and GPWUI) and farm performance is benchmarked and compared overtime

Information is used each season to help make better FIELD irrigation decisions

Check List:

Level 2 Soil moisture probes are located in representative soil types determined by objective evaluation such as EM survey, aerial or satellite image
Level 2 There is awareness of deep drainage as an issue and of the measures that can be taken to reduce its impact
Level 3

In field soil variation and potential 'leaky areas' are identified

Level 3

Irrigation Water Use Index (IWUIfield) and Gross Production Water Use Index (GPWUIfield) for each field is estimated and recorded


Key Area: Water storage and distribution systems

Practices are used for efficient management of storage and distribution systems

Check List:

Level 1

Aware of State legislation for the capture of overland flow and rainfall runoff

Level 2

Storages are surveyed to determine accurate storage volumes


Key Area: Irrigation system design, installation and management

Surface irrigation systems are designed, installed and managed appropriately

Drip irrigation systems are designed, installed and managed appropriately

Check List:

Level 2

The system capacity can meet peak crop water requirements

Level 2 The drip irrigation system takes into account your soil characteristics
Level 2

Training provided to the operator to ensure appropriate skills to operate the drip irrigation system

Level 3

A system evaluation was undertaken after installation to check the system meets specifications

Centre Pivot and Lateral Move irrigation systems are designed, installed and managed appropriately

Check List:

Level 2 CPLM irrigation system takes into account the topography and soil characteristics of your site
Level 2

Pre-season and in-season maintenance checks of the system are undertaken including flushing (fertigation), flow rates, filtration system and pressures

Level 3

A system evaluation was undertaken after installation to check the system meets specifications

Irrigation bore systems are designed, installed and managed appropriately

Check List:

Level 1

New bore construction and decommissioning of old bores is performed in accordance with State legislation

Level 1

New groundwater bores are constructed by licensed drillers

Level 1 Groundwater license holders are familiar with their license conditions, and in particular any specific conditions that may apply
Level 2

Irrigation bore water salinity (Electrical Conductivity - EC) is known and is mixed with alternative water source where appropriate and available

Level 2

The groundwater level is measured at the start and end of each irrigation season using basic methods and recorded to detect potential trends over time

Level 2

Regular bore maintenance is undertaken

Level 3 Groundwater salinity and major ions have been measured at the start of each irrigation season with laboratory analysis using standard methods of collection
Level 3

The groundwater level is continuously measured using an automated logger


Key Area: Dryland Water Management (Rain grown)

Practices are used to take advantage of rainfall

Check List:

Level 2

Minimum tillage is practiced when soils are dry and tillage practices are used to minimise the impact on stubble cover

Level 2

A controlled traffic system is in place with all tractors, boom sprays and implements following the same set of wheel tracks to minimise compaction

Level 2

Pre-season stored soil moisture profiles are the key determinant of planting decisions, including field history, soil type, row configuration, plant population and variety

Level 2

Fertiliser inputs are matched to pre-season soil water status and are reviewed during crop growth. Additional fertiliser is able to be applied in-crop if needed while minimising soil moisture loss

Level 2

Weeds are controlled in a timely manner

Level 3

Water use efficiency has been estimated using kg/mm or bales/ML, where the term water means stored water and effective rainfall


Key Area: Tailwater and Stormwater Mangement (Irrigated and Dryland growers)

Management strategies are implemented to prevent off-farm water quality impacts

Check List:

Level 1 All irrigation tailwater is contained either on-farm or in a shared group water supply scheme
Level 2

Where possible vegetative barriers at least 6 metres wide are maintained between cropping lands and sensitive areas

Level 3

The grower is aware of any priority issues identified in catchment water quality improvement plans that are relevant to their farm

Level 3

The grower participates in sub-catchment water quality sampling programmes where undertaken by a catchment group

Level 3 Water quality sampling is undertaken to monitor the quality of run-off from the property

Plans are developed and implemented to manage the impact of tailwater and stormwater runoff off farm

Check List:

Level 1

The first flush of stormwater runoff from treated areas is retained on-farm

Level 1 Any planned new infrastructure to contain tailwater and/or stormwater storages complies with legislation
Level 1

An effective stormwater management system is in place for managing storm events (e.g. minor, moderate, severe events)

Level 2 A documented stormwater management plan exists to manage storm events
Level 3

Runoff from most moderate and severe storms is controlled on farm or in a shared group water supply scheme