Federated Farmers says further Government investment for irrigation projects is a powerful stimulant for re-energising provincial New Zealand.
Managing dry spells and their intensity is challenging the rural sector and communities to build greater resilience to protect their livelihoods.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced an injection of $90 million dollars through its Crown Irrigation Investments into existing regional schemes.
“This is great news for rural communities and will provide access to significant social and economic benefits. It also emphasises the Government’s commitment to water storage, which is a lifeline for those connected and working in our primary sector, “says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers’ Environment Spokesperson.
The investment will allow communities to optimise the management of current and future irrigation projects ensuring better use of resources with less wastage.
“It will provide greater assurances all round and ultimately takes pressure off water resources when they are scarce especially during droughts and dry spells.
“Precise agriculture is increasingly being adopted by irrigators, which allows for the exact measurement of crop and pasture needs, where water and nutrient can be accurately applied to meet plant requirements,” says Chris.
Another aspect of well-designed irrigation schemes is the potential it has to provide significant environmental benefits.
“For example, the combination of smart technology with more sophisticated water scheduling ensures nutrients do not leave the root zone of plants, greatly reducing and potentially eliminating nutrient loss to the environment,” says Chris.
Of the new funding, $26.7 million over the next three years provides matched grant funding to regional scale irrigation schemes, helping them progress through the phases of development to reach construction.
While $63 million of new capital funding will support investment in the construction of regional irrigation infrastructure. Both initiatives are administered by Crown Irrigations Investment Limited (CIIL).
“Smart irrigation schemes are rapidly becoming the lifeblood of our rural communities. Individual family farms can combine their economic resources and grow strong rural communities because of this, while providing for positive environmental outcomes and, the production of high quality food,” says Chris.