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Irrigation

4.1. AREA IRRIGATED
The total area under irrigation in Tasmania has risen from around 40,000 hectares in 1985 to almost 70,000 hectares in 2002 with irrigated dairying and an expansion in the area of potatoes and poppies being the main drivers (Table 30).

Irrigated pasture is the largest component of the total area irrigated - 40 to 45 per cent in recent years. Given its relatively high water use per hectare, pasture probably accounts for 55 to 60 per cent of the total irrigation water used in the State. Much of the increase in pasture irrigation is associated with an increase in irrigated dairying. A Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment survey of dairy farms in 1997-9813 indicated that 65 per cent of dairy farmers used irrigation on pastures and/or forage crops, up from 38 per cent five years earlier.

The growth in irrigation of "other crops" is likely to be mainly as a result of the expansion in the area of poppies.

Table 30: Area Irrigated, Tasmania
('000 hectares)
 Table 30: Area Irrigated, Tasmania

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS data available on request, Agricultural Commodity Survey (See Appendix 6).

Most of the irrigation area in the State is in the Northern and North Western Natural Resource Management Regions (Table 31).

The total area irrigated has increased substantially since 1985 in each of the three Natural Resource Management Regions, and particularly in the Northern Region, in line with the increase in poppy and vegetable production in that Region and in the area of pasture irrigated. (Table 31 and Appendix 6).

The area of pasture irrigated has also increased substantially in the North Western Natural Resource Management Region. In both the Northern and North Western Regions the increase in pasture irrigation is mainly associated with an increase in irrigated dairying.


Table 31: Total Area Irrigated by Natural Resource Management Region
('000 hectares)
 Table 31: Total Area Irrigated by Natural Resource Management Region

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS data available on request, Agricultural Commodity Survey.


4.2. IRRIGATION WATER ALLOCATION
The total licensed water allocation for irrigation has increased greatly over the past 15 years (Figure 15 and Table 32). Most of that increase has been in the form of water taken into on-farm storage (17-fold increase) compared to direct take from rivers and streams (2-fold increase).

A comparison of Tables 31 and 32 suggests that water use per hectare has also increased over time, in line with the increase in pasture irrigation and more intensive use on crops.


Figure 15: Irrigation Water Allocations, Tasmania
 Figure 15: Irrigation Water Allocations, Tasmania

Source: Table 32


 

Table 32: Total Irrigation Water Allocation, Tasmania
('000 Megalitres)
 Table 32: Total Irrigation Water Allocation, Tasmania

Source: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment Water Management Branch

 

13 Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Tasmanian Dairy Farm Survey Report (1997-98 Season) (Back to text)