WATERpak launch welcomed by growers

18 August, 2004

___Technical information and practical advice to assist cotton irrigation practices, minimise environmental impacts, and increase farm profits, is now available in both CD and manual form._

Launching the new WATERpak in Narrabri, Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, said it brings together in one place for the first time many years of irrigation research conducted by many diverse organisations in the Australian cotton industry.

""Water is the major limiting factor of cotton production in Australia, and efficient water management is paramount to protect the environment and for cotton growers to achieve high yields and profits,” he said.

The development of WATERpak is a project of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre, in collaboration with a number of Queensland and NSW government departments, the CSIRO and private companies.

Guy Roth, chief executive of the Cotton CRC, said an unpredictable climate, coupled with a range of soil types, forces farmers to make management decisions in a complex and variable environment.

“The chief challenge for irrigators is to find the balance between improved water use efficiency and environmental stewardship, and the maintenance of farm profits,” he said.

Farming Systems research coordinator with the CRDC, Helen Dugdale, said the easiest gains to improve farm water use efficiency are within the field: minimisation of tailwater losses, drainage and the potential improvement in yield through the reduction of waterlogging effects.

“Harder to achieve, but very significant in terms of water use efficiency gains, exist in the control of evaporative and seepage losses from storages and channels. This is where most water is lost on cotton farms and it is essential that researchers and growers combine forces to address evaporative and drainage losses,” she said.

She described WATERpak as a manual on irrigation management of cotton, providing a central repository of available knowledge on the subject from many sources.

“It contains information on whole farm water use efficiency, irrigation design and management, limited water situations, crop water relationships, and crop growth responses to irrigation.”

She said it was complementary with the cotton industry’s Best Management Practices (BMP) program which prioritises issues for attention, identifies potential management risks, and provides an outline on how to manage those risks.

WATERpak will eventually be incorporated in the industry’s single COTTONpaks CD, which contains all the major decision support systems developed for the cotton industry including SOILpak, NUTRIpak, WEEDpak, Integrated Disease Management Guidelines, the Dryland Production Guide, and the Pest and Beneficial Guide.

A revised version of the COTTONpak CD, with accompanying documentation, will also include information on Managing Riparian Lands in the Cotton Industry, a Cotton Insect Pest and Beneficial Guide update, and other ENTOpak additions.

Further information: Helen Dugdale 02 6792 4088 or Guy Roth 02 6799 1592

Pictured: Graham Harris QDPIF, Helen Dugdale CRDC, Dirk Richards CSIRO, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Guy Roth Cotton CRC, and James Neilsen CSIRO, at the launch of WATERpak by Mr Anderson at Narrabri.