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National Irrigation Research NPIRD / NPSI Steve Mills and Brett Tucker . Christine Forster. Mike Logan. Warwick Watkins. Steve Mills . Bobbie Brazil. Charles Wilcox. Jason Alexandra. Nick Austin. Guy Roth. Col Creighton. Anwen Lovett. David Dore. Brett Tucker . Nick Schofield.

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National irrigation research npird npsi steve mills and brett tucker l.jpg

National Irrigation ResearchNPIRD / NPSI Steve Mills and Brett Tucker


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Christine Forster

Mike Logan

Warwick Watkins

Steve Mills

Bobbie Brazil

Charles Wilcox

Jason Alexandra

Nick Austin

Guy Roth

Col Creighton

Anwen Lovett

David Dore

Brett Tucker

Nick Schofield

Ian Prosser

Don Yule

Nick Schofield

Richard Stirzaker

Murray and Liz Chapman


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Overview

  • Broader national legacies of NPIRD and NPSI

  • On-ground legacies – reflections from a dairy farmer

  • Next generation of issues


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Key achievements

  • Elevating irrigation research beyond “commodities”

    • Stronger emphasis on collaboration and networks – high “gearing” for LWA investment

    • Helped focus on irrigation as an industry not just an input.

    • Enabled consideration of generic issues.


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Key achievements

  • Foundations for future policy and research

    • Precursor to national industry statistics (ANCID benchmarking).

    • Precursor to National Metering Standards (“Know the flow”)

    • Precursor to CRC Irrigation Futures

    • Precursor to system modernisation (seepage evaluation )

    • Infiltration of expertise – fellows, coordinators, farmers

    • Long gestation periods!!! (impacts on evaluation)


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Key achievements

  • Application on ground

    • Adoption is not an issue for good research - good research walks out the door!

    • Key research issues included Water Use Efficiency (farm, system), adoption, Trade, groundwater relationships, WQ.

    • PRD, Full stop, Aquacaps, irrigation insights, irrigation futures


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Productivity Story

  • Dairy – 500litres/ML water …………….Now 5000litres/ML water

  • Rice systems – 3ML/tonne……………Now 0.7 ML/tonne

  • Cotton – 1 bale / ML…………………now 2 bales / ML


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Current research questions

  • Coming to grips with the water, energy, carbon nexus

    • Cannot divorce decisions on water from decisions on energy and carbon.

    • 1 litre = 1kg water ……………1 ML = 1000 tonnes

    • GMW shifted 1.25 billion tonnes pa. in recent (drought) history.

    • Energy = about 70c / metre / ML – do the maths!!

    • Sustainable systems – efficient gravity irrigation has a place!


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Current research questions

  • Orderly asset rationalisation

    • Traditional planning approaches fail under extreme uncertainty and rapid change

    • Plan flexibility important, overcoming corporate and community inertia is the key but do we really want the “disposable irrigation system”



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Current research questions

  • Starsky and Hutch – who wants to play Starsky?

    • Who is able to play the bad cop as we withdraw from past investment?

    • Are our current governance models up to the challenge of major landscape change?


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Current research questions

  • Community resilience

    • Our withdrawal from irrigation communities is a greater challenge than our development

    • We need to understand community tipping points


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Current research questions

  • Closing the hydrologic water balance

    • Understanding groundwater connectivity

    • Understanding return flows

    • In-situ measurement – achieving the new national standards


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Current research questions

  • What will provide the next quantum shift in farm productivity ?

    • Climate change threatens substantial tracts of the grain belt

    • Viable irrigation communities will become more crucial

    • Irrigation region survival will hinge on achieving more with substantially less


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Current research questions

  • Individual rights versus collective responsibilities

    • Can we rely solely on markets to solve all problems?



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Legacy issues

  • Irrigation research has always struggled to find it’s space

  • LWRRDC/LWA placed irrigation R&D on the agenda and pioneered partnerships to maximise leverage and support

  • The R&D needs for irrigation have not evaporated….there is still much to be done.

  • Challenge in water will always be research investment to inform policy instead of undertaking body counts.


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An invitation from

Sydney 8 -10 June 2010


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