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SuSTAInABIlITy AnD ClIMATE CHAngE
NOvEMBER 2013 PARTNERS
in which, over 25 years, ACIAR has invested in
98 collaborative research projects to improve
water productivity. Gains were made through
improved irrigation schemes, better catchment
management and more efficient water
allocation systems that also reduced losses. The
results are helping farmers to use their water
The objective is to achieve ‘real’ water
savings. This means using less water or getting
more production out of the same amount of
water—‘more crop per drop’.
For example, one ACIAR project focused on
growing more rice with less water. Researchers
studied water-saving options in three irrigation
schemes in China and Australia. Water savings
NeWS IN BRIeF
Peanut varieties with improved drought
tolerance and increased water-use efficiency
were developed through ACIAR-funded
research led by the Queensland Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the decade
to 2003. The improved germplasm was made
available to breeders in Australia and India to lift
production in drought-prone areas.
ACIAR project: CS1/1997/114
The adoption of permanent raised beds in
rice-based cropping can improve returns on
every 1,000 litres of water used from $96 to
$136 per litre, and thus a significant saving.
Project beneficiaries included rice irrigators
in south-west new South Wales. The project
was led by CSIRo and the nSW Department
of Primary Industries and jointly funded by
ACIAR, the grains Research and Development
Corporation and the Rural Industries Research
and Development Corporation.
ACIAR project: lWR/2000/089
Victorian citrus orchards achieved water savings
of 25% through improved management of
irrigation schemes, which was developed
in an ACIAR project involving the Victorian
Department of Primary Industries and the
China Agricultural university in Beijing. Impacts
included reduced water wastage and matching
the amount of water applied and the time of
application to meet specific crop needs.
ACIAR project: SWl/1990/048
were achieved at the system level and on-farm.
This meant irrigators could use limited water
resources productively and reduce the amount
of water lost through system inefficiencies.
Another project carried out in China’s
Ningxia province helped improve irrigation
management in Australia’s Ord River Irrigation
Scheme. CSIRO scientists and their Chinese
counterparts from the Chinese Academy
of Sciences were able to improve water
management, reduce losses and better use
groundwater to reduce salinity build-up.
These are issues of vital importance in
Australia and many of ACIAR’s partner countries.
In Pakistan, India and China the available
water resources no longer satisfy population
mAppInG pRoduCtIon CApAbIlIty
aciar action the suitability of land for growing crops such as legumes and field crops can be easily
assessed as a result of ACIAr research on crop diversification in Cambodia and Australia. I n western
Australia’s southern cropping region, this has resulted in the development of maps that plot the land’s
capability for field pea, chickpea,
lentil and faba bean crops. the maps
identified areas not previously targeted
for pulse production. the department of
Agriculture and Food, wA, has adopted
the maps to help target critical areas
of its pulse breeding r&d. the method
used to generate the mapping capability
is also being used to predict the effects
of climate change on major grain
commodities. Furthermore, the Grains
research and development Corporation
is adopting and applying the method to
break crops such as oilseeds, pulses, oats
and lupins that are used in rotation with
and benefit production of key crops such
as wheat and barley.
soIl-pRofIlInG AId to fARmeRs
aciar action ACIAr collaborators developed a simple Soil Constraints and management Package (SCAmP)
that uses properties of soil—be it collected samples or soil in the field—to identify constraints and
indicate appropriate management strategies. It was developed in an ACIAr project to help sustainably
manage upland soils in vietnam. the inclusion of a soil/water partitioning model into SCAmP expanded its
capabilities, allowing it to trace the major pathway of water movement—run -off, ponding, drainage—for
any soil, based on its drainage and permeability ratings. this information has been used to map the major
pathways of water movement in soils of
the wet tropical coast of Queensland.
Furthermore, by linking to information
about the timing and placement method
of fertiliser application, the package can
also assess the risk of nutrients moving
into environmentally sensitive areas.
Following voluntary training, Queensland
sugarcane farmers have adopted site-
specific soil management tools to help
attain compliance with environmental
regulatory regimes such as the Great
Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Act
2009, which seeks to avoid damage from
fertiliser run-off into rivers that drain into
the Great barrier reef.
demands. Even in higher rainfall countries
such as vietnam and the Philippines, water
availability and competing demands create
pressures on water usage and quality.
Agriculture, particularly irrigated production
systems, is the major user of fresh water in the
world. By 2025 current population growth rates
are projected to double the use of fresh water.
Feeding the world will require an additional
5,600 trillion litres of water for agricultural,
industrial and household use.
More sustainable, productive and profitable
ways of managing water, such as those already
generated within ACIAR programs, will be vital
to providing the world’s future food, feed and
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