Irrigating for profit: Government funds cotton, dairy, rice & sugar R&D (6 May 2015)

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A project aimed at improving the profit of 3,000 cotton, dairy, rice and sugar irrigators has today been announced as one of 12 successful Rural R&D for Profit programme projects by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce.

The project, Smarter irrigation for profit, is a partnership between the major irrigation industries of cotton, dairy, rice and sugar, led by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) in conjunction with Dairy Australia, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Sugar Research Australia and other research partners.

The project aims to improve the profit of each individual irrigator enterprise across the four industries by $20,000-40,000 per annum, with the support of 16 R&D partners and up to 19 farmer-managed learning sites.

CRDC Executive Director Bruce Finney welcomed the announcement of today’s funding, which will see up to $4 million directed from the Rural R&D for Profit programme to this project. 

“Irrigated agriculture is responsible for 30 percent of all agricultural production in Australia, and half the profit. This is a large-scale, ambitious project designed to achieve a 10-20 percent improvement in water productivity, efficiency and farmer profitability, while also improving cross-sector industry research collaboration,” Mr Finney said.

“It is designed to increase on-farm profitability by integrating new irrigation scheduling and delivery technologies into good irrigation practice. It will build on previous research to drive additional improvements in cotton and rice, and will transfer learnings from the cropping industries to dairy.

“Our aim is to increase on-farm profit through the adoption of automated and precision application technologies across all industries,” Mr Finney said.

CRDC is also a partner in four other projects that have been selected for funding under today’s announcement:

  • Stimulating private sector extension in Australian agriculture to increase returns from R&D, led by Dairy Australia;
  • Improved use of seasonal forecasting to increase farmer profitability, led by RIRDC;
  • A profitable future for Australian agriculture: Biorefineries for higher-value animal feeds, chemicals, and fuels, led by Sugar Research Australia; and
  • Consolidating targeted and practical extension services for Australian Farmers and Fishers, led by RIRDC.

“We are very pleased to partner with our fellow RDCs on these four projects, which, while representing the very diverse fields of extension, climate and biorefinery, all share the same aim of improving farmer profitability,” Mr Finney said.

“We – CRDC, the other RDCs and our researcher partners – look forward to delivering all five projects to the benefit of cotton growers and the wider agricultural industry.”

For more information on all the projects funded under the Rural R&D for Profit programme, click here