On-farm assessment of irrigation systems

Page last updated: Thursday, 2 October 2014 - 5:38pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Irrigation systems that are not designed, maintained or used efficiently can cost growers in lost productivity, excess water use, unused fertiliser loss, and excessive energy bills.

Growers participating in DAFWA’s Royalties for Regions funded More Dollars per Drop project have the opportunity to take advantage of a free ‘system health check’ for an independent and confidential assessment of the state of their system, and feedback on how efficiently they use it.

This page outlines irrigation system testing procedures.

The assessment process

Assessments begin with a discussion about irrigation practices, scheduling, and crop production levels. A plan of the irrigation system is also drawn up if not already available. This helps tailor the process for each business. This is followed with an irrigation system test.

Pressure and flow measurements, condition assessments of mainlines, sub-main and laterals and the pump are important as they provide a picture of the current system state compared to what the system should be capable of in terms application rates.

The technical team uses the information collected during the interview and confirms the following with the grower:

  • block(s) layout
  • irrigation shifts (which blocks are operated at the same time)
  • layout of mainlines, sub-mains and laterals
  • location of pump, dams and bores
  • location of T junctions, elbows and pipe size changes

This information is overlaid onto an aerial photo of the property. With this map the grower identifies which blocks are to be tested by the team. Two or three blocks are usually selected, one of which should be furthest from the pump. This maximises the chances that measurements of the irrigation system operating under the most stress are captured.