Increasing irrigation efficiencies in the Australian Sugar Industry : final report BSE2
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Over 20 furrow irrigation sites on the Burdekin Delata were monitored by sugarcane growers for water use through the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons. Irrigation efficiencies varied from less than 20% to nearly 70%. Demonstration trials compared 'U' and 'V' furrow shapes and conventional versus reduced tillage. Deep drainage losses on highly permeable soils were halved by the use of either 'V' shaped furrows or reduced tillage. A combination of these treatments on one case reduced water usage by up to 70% without having any effect on final yield. the water saving reduces the pressure on the water resource, and lessens the potential for off-site losses of nutrients and pesticides through deep drainage. Around 500 minipans have been distributed to growers in the Burdekin. Productivity data collected from the last two seasons has shown that growers using minipans increased sugar yield by over three-quarters of a tonne of sugar per ha without using any extra water. This significant increase in yield is worth over $15,000 to a grower with 70 ha. A cost:benefit analysis showed potential savings of over 100,000 ML/year in the Burdekin Delta if growers adopt 'V' shape furrows and reduced tillage on freely draining soils. this water saving plus the increase in productivity from the adoption of minipans is worth %15.7 million to the Burdekin sugar industry.