Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Round Two for On-farm Irrigation Efficiency

Media release
9 December 2010

Irrigators in the southern Murray-Darling Basin will benefit from Government investment under the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency program.

Minister for Water, Tony Burke, said that the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency program was an important part of reform to the Murray Darling Basin.

"I am determined to achieve a Plan for the Murray Darling that delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and continued food production," Mr Burke said.

"As Agriculture Minister over the past three years, I saw what drought did to farmers and regional communities and I am determined to make sure that the next drought doesn't look like the last.

"The Government will invest up to $150 million in more efficient irrigation technology and practices.

"Round One of the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency program supported about 370 irrigators to improve irrigation and water use efficiency," Mr Burke said.

"Round Two is expected to take this to nearly 1000 irrigators.

"This program is a good example of the Government enabling regional organisations and irrigation businesses to use their expertise in delivering a better future for irrigators and their communities.

"In exchange for investment in on-farm infrastructure, the successful recipients will share the water savings with at least 50 per cent to be transferred to the Australian Government for environmental use."

Under Round Two, competitive bids are invited from organisations having close relationships with irrigator communities, such as irrigation infrastructure operators, catchment management authorities, commodity or agricultural industry groups, and regional irrigation bodies.

The projects must be able to secure the long-term sustainable future for irrigation communities, deliver substantial and lasting returns of water to the environment to secure real improvements in river health, and deliver value for money.

As with other irrigation efficiency programs, water entitlements transferred to the Commonwealth as part of this program will not be subject to any state trading limits such as the four per cent cap on out-of-district trade.

The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program is part of the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure component of Water for the Future, which is assisting to bridge the gap between existing diversion limits and future sustainable diversion limits.

The deadline for applications is 4.00 pm (AESDST) on Thursday 31 March, 2011.

For more information about the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program, visit the program website at or call 1800 218 478.