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Irrigation and Efficient Water Use

Water is a precious resource that we all need to use wisely. Hawke’s Bay has great soils and growing conditions for producing food. With water, Hawke’s Bay is a very productive region. But, we do have a responsibility to make sure that the water needed to produce our food is being used effectively and efficiently.

Good irrigation practice in Hawke’s Bay

The adoption of good irrigation practice is something that Hawke’s Bay Regional Council actively encourages.  Irrigation means that Hawke’s Bay can continue to be a very productive region even when it gets dry, much like a home gardener needs water for a vege patch.  An efficient irrigation system with excellent management means we can grow food while minimising the impact on the environment.

Irrigation check-up programme 2017-19

In recent years, the Irrigation check-up programme was run by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to help irrigators find out how well their system stacked up. 

Many voluntary irrigators took part, with over 100 irrigation systems checked.  Participants found the programme beneficial, and it helped to highlight areas for irrigation system improvements, that could ultimately benefit productivity and reduce environmental impacts.

The Irrigation check-up programme has helped to shape work programmes around improving irrigation management practices.

Getting it Right

The programme identified some of the great things irrigators are doing:

• Many irrigation systems passed the performance checks with flying colours
• In year one, all newly installed irrigation systems had excellent performance.
• Orchardists are very proactive at getting consultancy advice around irrigation management and soil moisture monitoring
• The willingness to participate in the programme shows that irrigators are taking irrigation efficiency seriously
• Those with irrigation system that needed tweaks were being proactive at getting maintenance underway


Room for improvement?

The learnings from the irrigation check-up programme highlighted several key areas:

  • All irrigation systems have leaks, but if it looks bad, it probably is. Leaks can affect the performance of the whole system and waste water.  Fix leaks – it’s a win-win
  • Some irrigation systems look like they are operating well, but some issues are not so visible. Check it to get the real answer.
  • After about 10 years, irrigation systems often decline in performance measures. If your system is getting on, give it a bit more attention to keep it working at its best.
  • Knowing when and how much to irrigate is very important for maintaining productivity and minimising impact on the environment. Soil Moisture monitoring is important to justify irrigation events
  • Skills shortage – Hawke’s Bay needs more industry professionals qualified to assess irrigation system performance.

Where to from here?

  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will actively encourage irrigation system maintenance.
  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is working alongside industry to build capacity for irrigation system performance checks

It is expected that changes in policy will soon require irrigation system performance checks.   

More information

You can find more information on how to check your irrigation system at Irrigation NZ - search key word ‘annual assessment’.

Here is the Council Briefing Paper, Reports from the 2017 programme.

Check in 'related documents' at the top of this page for irrigation check up reports.


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