The Murray-Darling Basin science

Research to support Murray-Darling Basin industries and communities

Page 5 of 9

Challenge

The Australian Government aims to deliver substantial and lasting water returns to the Murray-Darling Basin for the environment and to secure a long-term future for irrigation communities, through water purchases and modernising irrigation infrastructure.

Response

To help irrigation communities deal with Australia’s changing climate and changes in water availability, CSIRO has undertaken a range of  studies into irrigated agriculture production as well as both on-farm and off-farm water use efficiencies and salinity.

At district level, CSIRO research has enabled irrigation areas to make informed changes to water management and has identified where irrigation infrastructure could be modernised to save water.

In addition, CSIRO in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Irrigation Futures (CRC IF), has been developing systems to improve on-farm efficiencies including:

  • Fullstop, a commercial irrigation scheduling tool that detects when applied irrigation water reaches a set depth in the soil
  • SMS irrigation Scheduling Service that converts satellite and weather station data into information that aids irrigator decision making. Man in red shirt with boxes and boxes of orange fruit - don't think they're oranges though

Dealing with change

Changes in surface and groundwater diversions across the Basin are expected to occur following the introduction of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s new Basin Plan.

The Plan will set sustainable diversion limits for each water resource planning area and there has been much speculation about changing the balance between consumptive users and the environment.

CSIRO research has been conducted to support the adaptation of irrigation communities in a water scarce environment that involves:

  • working with irrigation bodies to identify irrigation management options that do not adversely affect groundwater while maintaining productivity
  • developing new ways to assess the social, economic and environmental impact of a range of management decisions
  • investigating water trade offs for different uses, including irrigation, environment, and urban use.

CSIRO is also investigating the social and economic consequences of change in order to provide a systems-wide view of the irrigation industry at a time of major readjustment.

Tools and information are being developed that will help enhance the multiple social and economic values obtained from water in a changing water regime.

Outcomes

This research aims to provide adaptation possibilities, and economic implications of, water availability, as well as management scenarios for irrigation, municipal industrial water supplies, and recreational amenities.

This science will support a future where community benefits can be maximised and investments can be well targeted.

For more information download the fact sheet on page eight.