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 is part of the Sust​aina​ble Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program 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 entitlements resulting from water savings generated from eligible projects will help to 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.

Types of activities funded

A total of 1,538 sub-projects, receiving Australian Government funding of $503,686,052.96 (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 conversion to, surface or sub-surface drip systems and overhead spray systems such as lateral move or centre pivots
  • 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 will provide the Australian Government with 152.6 gigalitres (calculated as long term average annual yield) of water savings over the long term to help “bridge the gap” towards the sustainable diversion limits under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. This investment in on-farm infrastructure projects will also help to boost the economic and social outcomes for regional communities.

Funding provided under rounds 1 to 5

OrganisationRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total Funding (GST Excl.)
Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC)$11,507,700.00$20,169,239.00$10,929,568.95$16,824,899.52 $59,431,407.47
Murray Irrigation Ltd (MIL)$28,139,576.36$31,739,951.96$10,131,775.22$8,822,277.00 $78,833,580.54
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA)$20,599,083.49$22,756,896.00 $43,355,979.49
Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (LCMA)$3,826,260.00$252,655.20 $4,078,915.20
Ricegrowers' Association of Australia (RGA) - Murrumbidgee$16,936,809.00$23,541,593.76$40,939,031.89 $81,417,434.65
Ricegrowers' Association of Australia (RGA) - Murray$3,596,981.00$6,446,011.32Withdrew$2,694,856.68 $12,737,849.00
South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB)$1,612,573.18$12,006,585.97$29,061,278.39$17,695,503.46 $60,375,941.00
Fruit Growers Victoria Ltd (FGVL)$4,879,060.00$3,868,881.47 $8,747,941.47
Irrigation Efficiency Partners (IEP)$15,982,459.64$11,258,498.00$21,551,429.86$11,726,647.56 $60,519,035.06
Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee (NVFTIDC)$4,635,000.00 $4,635,000.00
Waterfind Pty Ltd$12,510,051.48$7,896,898.89$46,827,518.43 $67,234,468.80
Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL)$3,391,956.00 $3,391,956.00
CAF Consulting$18,926,544.28 $18,926,544.28
Total Funding $86,218,983.03 $118,867,859.09 $80,240,303.10 $68,205,176.38 $150,153,731.36 $503,686,052.96

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Round 5 – closed 19 March 2015

Under Round 5 of OFIEP, $150.1 million in funding was granted to eight delivery partners for projects in the NSW Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments.

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

The Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) will manage up to 30 on farm projects in Round 5 which are expected to be delivered by May 2018. These involve:

  • conversion from furrow/flood irrigation to overhead pressurised irrigation and subsurface drip irrigation in a mixed cropping system
  • conversion from border check irrigation to overhead spray
  • upgrade from flood to drip irrigation
  • implementation of pressurised irrigation.

CAF Consulting

CAF Consulting will manage up to 13 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by February 2019. These involve:

  • conversion from traditional surface irrigation to pressurised overhead spray irrigation systems
  • upgrades to border check, bankless channels, reuse and storage systems
  • micro irrigation systems, radio control telemetry, irrigation scheduling and weather monitoring.

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL) will manage up to 14 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by February 2019. These involve:

  • upgrades to existing surface irrigation system layouts to efficient surface layouts and recycled water storage systems
  • conversion from surface to spray irrigation systems and improvement of existing drip irrigation systems.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) will manage up to 6 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by February 2019.  These involve:

  • overhead spray irrigation
  • drip irrigation
  • modernisation of flood irrigation layouts including laser furrow and recycling.

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) will manage up to 38 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by November 2018. These involve:

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

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murray Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murray Consortium (RGA Murray) will manage up to 12 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by October 2018. These 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
  • installation of automation and or sensing equipment to aid irrigation timing and water management. This includes installing timers to open and shut individual bay outlets.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murrumbidgee Consortium

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia/Murrumbidgee Consortium will manage up to 58 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by February 2019. These involve:

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

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd will manage up to 24 on farm projects in Round 5, which are expected to be delivered by February 2019. These involve:

  • redesigning infrastructure to improve surface irrigation systems
  • upgrades to bankless channel, flood layout and drainage and reuse
  • upgrades to spray irrigation and direct delivery irrigation.

Round 4 – closed 14 October 2013

Under Round 4 of OFIEP, $68.2 million in funding was granted to five delivery partners.

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

The Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) managed up to 25 on farm projects in Round 4 which were completed in May 2016. These involved:

  • conversion of flood irrigation to overhead pressurised irrigation
  • surface ground preparation, laser grading and landforming
  • conversion of flood irrigation to drip irrigation systems.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of up to $21.5m and are managing up to 43 on farm projects in Round 4, which are expected to be delivered by September 2017. These involve:

  • installation of centre pivot and lateral move irrigators, including underground supply pipes, pivot pads, pump stations and pump sheds
  • installation of fast flow flood layouts and pipes and risers
  • installation of soil moisture monitoring equipment
  • retirement of open channel delivery systems and decommissioning of flood irrigation layouts
  • installation of drip irrigation systems
  • construction of water storage dams
  • installation and upgrade of power supplies
  • laser grading and landforming.

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of up to $10.1m and are managing up to 53 on farm projects in Round 4, which are expected to be delivered by October 2017. These involve:

  • irrigation system upgrades
  • conversion from surface to spray irrigation systems.

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd received funding of up to $7.8m and are managing up to 20 on farm projects in Round 4, which are expected to be delivered by late 2017. These involve:

  • system redesign
  • installation of moisture monitoring probes
  • installation of pipe and riser systems
  • laser levelling to surface flood irrigation
  • upgrades to surface and sub surface drop irrigation methods.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of up to $17.6m and are managing up to 69 on farm projects in Round 4, which are expected to be delivered by November 2017. These involve:

  • Conversion from sprinkler to drip, modernisation of surface drip and soil monitoring units
  • Conversion from surface to sprinkler, automation control upgrades including centre pivots
  • drainage and channel upgrades.

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, $80.2million in funding was granted to five delivery partners.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of up to $11.2m and managed up to 22 on farm projects in Round 3, which were completed in February 2017. These involved:

  • irrigation system automation, control and monitoring
  • installation of lateral move and centre pivot irrigators
  • redesign and integrated on-farm irrigation system renewal and reconfiguration.

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of up to $29m and manage up to 165 on farm projects in Round 3, which are expected to be completed by November 2017. These involve:

  • enhancement and extension of on-farm soil moisture monitoring networks
  • sprinkler to drip irrigation conversion and integrated control and monitoring
  • irrigation system automation, control and monitoring
  • sprinkler to sprinkler irrigation conversion and upgraded control and monitoring
  • redesign and integrated on-farm irrigation system renewal and reconfiguration.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) received funding of up to $23.5m and managed up to 62 on farm projects in Round 3, which were completed in September 2016. These involved:

  • redevelopment of surface irrigation layouts using laser technology
  • reconstruction of supply channels
  • conversion of surface irrigation to overhead centre pivot and lateral move infrastructure
  • upgrades to farm drainage, reuse and storage facilities
  • automation and sensing equipment
  • soil moisture monitoring and communication equipment
  • upgrades to surface drip and fertigation systems.

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited (FGVL) received funding of up to $3.8m and managed up to 24 on farm projects in Round 3, which were completed in September 2016. These involved:

  • flood replacement and saturation mitigation
  • upgrades to overhead irrigation.

Waterfind Pty Ltd

Waterfind Pty Ltd received funding of up to $12.5m and managed up to 19 on farm projects in Round 3, which were completed in August 2016. These involved:

  • Irrigation system redesign with laser grading.

Round 2 – closed 31 March 2011

Under Round 2 of OFIEP, $118.8 million in funding was granted to nine delivery partners.

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) received funding of $20.1m and managed 37 on farm projects in Round 2 which were completed in February 2015. These involved:

  • Improvements to on-farm productivity & long term sustainability through implementing bed based irrigation systems and sub-surface irrigation
  • pressurised overhead irrigation systems (centre pivot).

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of $31.7m and managed 179 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in May 2015. These involved:

  • upgrading surface irrigation systems
  • converting surface irrigation to spray and micro irrigation systems.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) received funding of $22.7m and managed 87 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in August 2014. These involved:

  • conversion from flood to improved flood irrigation including laser grading
  • channel reconfiguration and fast flow automation
  • upgrades to channel pipes, risers and automation
  • installation of irrigation reuse systems.

Central West Local Land Services

Central West Local Land services, formerly Lachlan Catchment Management Authority, received funding of $252,000 and managed 1 on farm project in Round 2, which was completed in May 2014. This involved:

  • replacing 9,035 meters of open channels with pipes.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia - Murray

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray (RGA Murray) received funding of $6.4m and managed 32 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in March 2015. These involved:

  • redevelopment of surface irrigation
  • installation of irrigation reuse systems
  • redesign and landforming
  • installation of lateral move irrigators

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRMB) received funding of $12m and managed 107 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in March 2015. These involved:

  • implementation of integrated on farm modernisation technology
  • modernisation of drip irrigation systems
  • sprinkler conversion, soil moisture monitoring & automation
  • conversion from surface irrigation to drip irrigation.

Fruit Growers Victoria Limited

Fruit Growers Victoria (FGVL) Limited received funding of $4.8m and managed 27 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in April 2015. These involved:

  • installation of automation and moisture monitoring systems
  • conversion from flood to micro spray and drip
  • overhead irrigation.

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd

Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd (IEP) received funding of $15.9m and managed 20 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in January 2015. These involved:

  • conversion from flood irrigation to spray irrigation with soil treatment.
  • installation of lateral move and centre pivot irrigators

Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee

Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee (NVFTIDC) received funding of $4.6m and managed 6 on farm projects in Round 2, which were completed in December 2014. These involved:

  • conversion from flood to sub surface drip irrigation.

Round 1 – closed 17 November 2009

Under Round 1 of OFIEP, $86.2 million in funding was granted to seven delivery partners.

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council

Australian Processing Tomato Research Council (APTRC) received funding of $11.5m and managed 21 on farm projects in Round 1 which were completed in August 2013. These involved:

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

Murray Irrigation Limited

Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) received funding of $28.1m and managed 129 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in December 2013. These involved:

  • upgrades to existing surface water border check and contour irrigation systems
  • conversion 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 $20.5m and managed 76 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in October 2013. These involved:

  • conversion from unimproved flood to improved flood irrigation.

Central West Local Land Services

Central West Local Land services, formerly Lachlan Catchment Management Authority received funding of $3.8m and managed 14 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in April 2014. These involved:

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

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia - Murrumbidgee

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia - Murrumbidgee received funding of $16.9m and managed 54 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in October 2013. These involved:

  • redevelopment of surface irrigation systems
  • land forming, farm drainage reuse & storage
  • conversion from surface irrigation to overhead irrigation.

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia - Murray

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia – Murray (RGA Murray) received funding of $3.5m and managed 30 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in October 2013. These involved:

  • redevelopment of 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 $1.6m and managed 21 on farm projects in Round 1, which were completed in September 2013. These involved:

  • conversion from sprinkler to drip systems
  • soil moisture monitoring
  • conversion 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

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