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The Irrigation Insight programme provides dairy farmers with the knowledge, tools and confidence to better manage irrigation, precisely applying the water needed – where, when and how much. Find out how below.

The programme is a joint industry-Crown Research Institute research and extension programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to examine the ease and effectiveness of using improved weather forecast and drainage estimations to on-farm water management on irrigated dairy farms.The five-year programme, started in October 2016, focuses on environmental, social and economic aspects of irrigation management. Led by NIWA, in collaboration with DairyNZ, Fonterra, AgResearch and IrrigationNZ and with research partner LIC, the programme builds on NIWA’s earlier pilot work in Canterbury.

The programme aims to support dairy farmers in moving away from a 'just in case' or 'just in time' scheduling towards an irrigation approach that accounts for both current demand and future supply.

Our project will quantify the economic and environmental benefits of improved water use efficiency from integrating high-resolution weather forecast data with on-farm irrigation scheduling decisions. It also aims to translate data and findings into beneficial tools and knowledge for dairy farmer use throughout New Zealand. Environmentally we look to reduce instances of drainage and leaching from over irrigation; economically we are looking to reduce the on-farm costs associated with irrigation management. Importantly, we focus on saving farmers’ time spent on making irrigation decisions, without compromising on the effectiveness of decisions made.

The programme has four inter-linked components:

1. On-farm decision support tools tested on 10 Canterbury irrigated dairy farms through new on-farm technology and state-of-the-art weather forecasting

2. Understanding through economic modelling

3. Feedback loops for real-life fit

4. Findings shared through a knowledge exchange.

To find out more visit the 'About' page of this website.

Sign-up for the regular programme e-newsletter to find out about project progress and the development of new knowledge and tools. This will include the development of educational and training programmes to encourage the sharing of knowledge as well as providing the basis for wider discussion. We will also be working with industry partners to share our findings and to ensure that farmers have clear, science-based messaging and that knowledge resources are not duplicated.

Our programme will bring together multiple stakeholders with diverse perspectives on water management including Māori-owned farming enterprises to work together in a co-innovation approach. This co-innovation approach relies on research organisations, agricultural industry stakeholders, regulators, resource managers and farmers working together within the programme to co-develop knowledge, share learnings and co-design solutions, which will accelerate the pace and uptake of innovation.

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Case Studies

Hear from the farmers who are using our resources to aid on-farm irrigation decisions and the impact its having on productivity, profits and the environment.