On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program

​​​​ The Australian Government is working to improve the efficiency and productivity of on-farm irrigation water use and management. The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (OFIEP) is part of the Sust​aina​ble Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

The OFIEP is assisting irrigators within the southern connected system of the Murray–Darling Basin to modernise their on-farm irrigation infrastructure while returning water savings to the environment.​ Water savings generated from eligible projects will help  secure a sustainable future for irrigation communities.

The southern connected system encompasses the New South Wales Murray, Victorian Murray, South Australian Murray, Campaspe, Murrumbidgee, Goulburn, Broken, Loddon and Lower Darling (south of Menindee Lakes) river catchments.

No new proposals are being funded under the OFIEP program. All existing approved projects must be completed by 30 June 2019.

Types of activities funded

More than 1,500 sub-projects, receiving Australian Government funding of around $500 million (GST exclusive), will improve the efficiency of on-farm irrigation systems and on-farm water use through measures such as:

  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure or technology, including automated water management systems and sensing equipment intended to improve decision-making to help improve irrigation efficiency
  • improving irrigated area layout or design for the purpose of improving on-farm irrigation efficiency (e.g. laser grading, decommissioning old irrigation infrastructure)
  • upgrading of, or converting to, surface or sub-surface drip systems and overhead spray systems such as lateral move or centre pivots
  • installing ancillary equipment necessary for new or upgraded irrigation systems to function (e.g. computer equipment or pumping equipment).

Expected water savings

Projects approved under Rounds 1 to 5 of the program (map of sub-project locations PNG 812 KB) have provided the Australian Government with around 187 gigalitres (nominal) of water savings over the long term to help “bridge the gap” towards the sustainable diversion limits under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. Around 86 gigalitres (nominal) of water savings have been retained by irrigators. This investment in on-farm infrastructure projects will also help boost the economic and social outcomes for regional communities.

Funding provided under Rounds 1 to 5 (Funding-GST exclusive as at September 2018 is rounded and subject to verification)

OrganisationRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total Funding
Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC)$11,507,700$20,169,239$10,929,569$14,324,475$56,930,983
Murray Irrigation Ltd (MIL)$28,139,576$31,739,953$10,148,566 $6,562,888 $76,590,983
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA)$20,599,083$22,756,896$43,355,979
Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CTLLS) (formerly Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (LCMA))$3,826,260$252,655$4,078,915
Ricegrowers' Association of Australia (RGA) - Murrumbidgee$16,936,809$23,541,594$40,939,032$81,417,435
Ricegrowers' Association of Australia (RGA) - Murray$3,596,981$6,446,011Withdrew$2,694,857$12,737,849
South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB)$1,612,573$12,006,583$29,061,279$17,695,503$60,375,938
Fruit Growers Victoria Ltd (FGVL)$4,879,060$3,868,881$8,747,941
Irrigation Efficiency Partners (IEP)$15,982,459$11,258,496$21,551,430$11,726,648$60,519,035
Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee (NVFTIDC)$4,635,000$4,635,000
Waterfind Pty Ltd$12,510,051$7,896,899$46,827,518$67,234,469
Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL)$4,018,756 $4,018,756
CAF Consulting$18,926,544$18,926,544
Total Funding $86,218,983$118,867,857$80,240,30468,221,967$146,020,717$499,569,828

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Round 5 – closed 19 March 2015

Under Round 5 of OFIEP, around $146m (GST exclusive) in funding was granted to eight delivery partners for projects in the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments. (Map of Round 5 sub-project locations PNG 680 KB)

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

The Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) is receiving funding of around $14.3m to manage 28 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 5 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1.3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • converting from furrow/flood irrigation to overhead pressurised irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation in a mixed cropping system.

CAF Consulting

CAF Consulting is receiving funding of around $19m to manage 13 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 7.7 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 5.5 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators.  These projects involve:

  • converting from traditional surface irrigation to pressurised overhead spray irrigation systems
  • upgrading to border check, bankless channels, reuse and storage systems.

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL) is receiving funding of around $4m to manage 14 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 1.3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • upgrading from existing surface irrigation system layouts to more efficient surface layouts and recycled water storage systems
  • converting from surface to spray irrigation systems and improving existing drip irrigation systems.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) is receiving funding of around $12m to manage 6 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 4 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1.5 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • installing overhead spray irrigation
  • installing drip irrigation technologies
  • modernising flood irrigation layouts, including laser furrow and recycling.

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) is receiving funding of around $6.6m to manage 28 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • upgrading from existing surface irrigation systems to more efficient surface layouts
  • converting from surface to spray irrigation systems
  • upgrading to border check, bankless channels, reuse and storage systems.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murray Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murray Consortium (RGA Murray) is receiving funding of around $2.7m to manage 12 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 1 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.4 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation layouts using laser level technology
  • installing or upgrading farm drainage, drainage reuse and storage facilities for improved management and reuse of runoff water
  • installing and redeveloping pressurised sub surface / micro irrigation systems
  • installing automation or sensing equipment to aid irrigation timing and water management including installation of timers to open and shut individual bay outlets.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murrumbidgee Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murrumbidgee Consortium is receiving funding of around $41m to manage 58 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 16.8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 8.5 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation layouts using laser level technology
  • installing and upgrading farm drainage, drainage reuse, and storage facilities
  • installing pressurised sub surface/micro irrigation systems
  • installing automation and sensing equipment for timing and water management.

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd is receiving funding of around $46.8m to manage 24 on-farm projects in Round 5. Approximately 19 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 12.5 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects involve:

  • upgrading and redesigning surface flood irrigation systems, including laser grading and installing fast flow irrigation
  • improving surface irrigation systems through changes to layout and upgrading infrastructure
  • upgrading sub-surface drip irrigation
  • upgrading overhead spray irrigation.

Round 4 – closed 14 October 2013

Under Round 4 of OFIEP, $68.2m (GST exclusive) in funding was granted to five delivery partners. (Map of Round 4 sub-project locations PNG 672 KB)

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

The Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) received funding of around $10.9m and managed 25 on-farm projects in Round 4. Approximately 4 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.7 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from flood/furrow irrigation to overhead pressurised irrigation.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of around $21.6m and managed 43 on-farm projects in Round 4. Approximately 8.5 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 3.2 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting flood irrigation layouts to spray irrigation technologies. These also included installing centre pivot and lateral irrigators, soil moisture monitoring equipment and drip irrigation
  • modernising flood irrigation layouts including installing fast flow flood layouts, pipes and risers, constructing water storage dams, upgrading power supplies.

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of around $10.1m and managed 52 on-farm projects in Round 4. Approximately 6.6 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and   1.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • upgrading to more efficient surface layouts
  • converting from surface to spray irrigation systems.

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd received funding of around $7.9m and managed 20 on-farm projects in Round 4. Approximately 3.8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1.3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting flood irrigation layouts to overhead spray or precision technology
  • upgrading and redesigning surface flood irrigation stems
  • upgrading to surface and sub-surface drip irrigation.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of around $17.7m and managed 69 on-farm projects in Round 4. Approximately 6 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from sprinkler to modernised drip irrigation
  • converting from existing irrigation systems to modernised surface drip irrigation and improving automation control and monitoring networks
  • enhancing soil moisture monitoring networks
  • converting from surface irrigation to a high performance pressurised sprinkler system
  • adopting leading edge irrigation management technologies including the installation of variable rate irrigation on centre pivot units
  • undertaking land-forming works including laser grading
  • upgrading channel and drainage.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia / Murray Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia / Murray Consortium withdrew from the program after in-principal funding was granted and did not enter into a funding agreement in Round 4.

Round 3 – closed 26 July 2012

Under Round 3 of OFIEP, around $80.2m (GST exclusive) in funding was granted to five delivery partners. (Map of Round 3 sub-project locations PNG 672 KB)

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of around $11.3m and managed 22 on-farm projects in Round 3. Approximately 3.6 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting flood irrigation layouts to precision spray technologies, including overhead spray and micro spray.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of around $29m and managed 165 on-farm projects in Round 3. Approximately 8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 3.4 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • enhancing and extending on-farm soil moisture monitoring networks
  • converting from sprinkler to modernised drip irrigation
  • upgrading irrigation system automation, control and monitoring networks
  • adopting leading edge irrigation management technologies including the installation of variable rate irrigation on centre pivot units
  • renewing existing surface irrigation through land forming works including laser grading, delivery channel works and drainage
  • renewing and reconfiguring irrigation system including primary filtration.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia / Murrumbidgee Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) received funding of around $23.5m and managed 62 on-farm projects in Round 3. Approximately 11.5 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation layouts using laser technology
  • reconstructing supply channels
  • converting surface irrigation to overhead centre pivot and lateral move infrastructure
  • upgrading farm drainage, reuse and storage facilities
  • installing automation and sensing equipment
  • soil moisture monitoring and communication equipment
  • redeveloping pressurised sub surface/micro irrigation systems.

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited (FGVL) received funding of around $3.9m and managed 24 on-farm projects in Round 3. Approximately 1.3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • replacing flood irrigation and saturation irrigation systems with new mini sprinklers or drip irrigation
  • installing overhead irrigation.

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd received funding of around $12.5m and managed 19 on-farm projects in Round 3. Approximately 5.8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • redesigning irrigation system with laser grading.

Round 2 – closed 31 March 2011

Under Round 2 of OFIEP, $118.9m (GST exclusive) in funding was granted to nine delivery partners. (Map of Round 2 sub-project locations PNG 712 KB)

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) received funding of around $20.2m and managed 37 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 4.2 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.4 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • implementing bed based irrigation systems and sub-surface irrigation
  • implementing pressurised overhead irrigation systems .

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of around $31.7m and managed 179 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 13 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and    5.4 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • upgrading surface irrigation systems
  • converting surface irrigation to spray irrigation systems
  • converting surfacing irrigation to micro irrigation system.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) received funding of around $22.8m and managed 87 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 5.8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 5.8 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are completed and involved:

  • channel reconfiguring/ fast flows/ automation
  • channel lining/pipes and risers/automation
  • installing reuse systems to collect and reuse surface runoff.

Lachlan Catchment Management Authority

Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (currently Central Tablelands Local Land Services) received funding of around $252,655 and managed 1 on-farm project in Round 2. Approximately 0.3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government. Water savings were not retained by irrigators. The project is complete and involved:

  • replacing open channels with pipes.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray (RGA Murray) received funding of around $6.4m and managed 32 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 2.7 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation including adopting laser levelled surface irrigation layouts, converting surface irrigation to overhead irrigation, converting surface to sub-surface irrigation.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of around $12m and managed 107 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • implementing integrated on farm modernisation technology
  • modernising drip irrigation systems
  • converting from sprinkler irrigation to drip irrigation and installing soil moisture monitoring
  • converting from surface irrigation to drip irrigation.

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited

Fruit Growers Victoria (FGVL) Limited received funding of around $4.9m and managed 27 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 1.3 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • installing automation and moisture monitoring systems
  • converting from flood irrigation to mini sprinklers and drip irrigation
  • installing overhead irrigation.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of around $16m and managed 20 on-farm projects in Round 2. Approximately 6.6 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 2.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting flood irrigation to spray irrigation
  • installing lateral move and centre pivot irrigators.

Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee

Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee (NVFTIDC) received funding of around $4.6m and managed 6 on-farm projects in Round 2. 1 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from flood to sub-surface drip irrigation.

Round 1 – closed 17 November 2009

Under Round 1 of OFIEP, around $86.2m (GST exclusive) in funding was granted to seven delivery partners. (Map of Round 1 sub-project locations PNG 936 KB)

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) received funding of around $11.5m and managed 21 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 2 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 2 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from flood irrigation to sub-surface drip irrigation.

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of around $28.1m and managed 129 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 12 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and    4.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • upgrading existing surface water border check and contour irrigation systems
  • converting from surface flood irrigation systems to spray irrigation systems and micro irrigation systems.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) received funding of around $20.6m and managed 76 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 5 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 4.6 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from unimproved flood to improved flood irrigation including laser grading, channel reconfiguration and pipe automation.

Lachlan Catchment Management Authority

Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (currently Central Tablelands Local Land Services) received funding of around $3.8m and managed 14 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 4 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 1 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • on-farm storage and recycling
  • converting from surface to fixed and moveable spray irrigation.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murrumbidgee Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia - Murrumbidgee received funding of around $16.9m and managed 54 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 8 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 2.5 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation systems
  • land forming, farm drainage reuse and storage
  • converting from surface irrigation to overhead irrigation.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray (RGA Murray) received funding of around $3.6m and managed 30 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 1.6 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.8 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • redeveloping surface irrigation systems
  • land forming, farm drainage reuse and storage.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of around $1.6m and managed 21 on-farm projects in Round 1. Approximately 0.4 GL (nominal) of water was transferred to the Australian Government and 0.3 GL (nominal) was retained by irrigators. These projects are complete and involved:

  • converting from sprinkler to drip systems
  • monitoring soil moisture
  • converting to drip irrigation and soil moisture monitoring.

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Further information

Contact us for more information on the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program.

Email form: Water Division
Phone: 1800 900 090