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ORD LAND AND WATER       » Management Plan » Irrigated Agriculture

Introduction

This chapter focuses on identifying ways of minimising the impact of farming on surface water, ground water and land resources.

Many of the strategies build on the work carried out since 2000, and in particular projects associated with the Ord Catchment NAP Program between 2004 and 2009. Farmers, either on an individual basis or through the Ord Irrigation Cooperative have the principal responsibility for these issues but must be strongly supported by State agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia and the Department of Water.





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Trial Bore Water OLW

Ground Water

Goals

  • To maintain groundwater levels to below two metres from the surface across all irrigation areas.

  • To hold the quality of groundwater in all irrigation areas at 2009 levels or better and specifically the Ord River Irrigation Area as documented in the Ord Valley Arial Electro Magnetic (AEM) Interpretation Project and other data sets.

  • Background

    Prior to the development of irrigated agriculture groundwater levels fluctuated with the wet and dry seasons. As occurs in all irrigation developments where ground water is not used for irrigation, irrigated agriculture has resulted in rising ground water levels.

    There is a network of monitoring bores (piezometers) located throughout the Ord River Irrigation Area. Some of these bores have been in place and monitored since 1964, and an additional network of 60 on-farm bores has been installed since 1991. This has enabled long-term trends to be established and the influence of on-farm management techniques on the rate of rise of the ground water to be measured.

    Groundwater projects undertaken since 2000

  • Assessment of Salinity Prevention Options. (OIC)

  • Groundwater Options to Control Rising Groundwater levels and Salinity. (CSIRO)

  • Groundwater Pumping Trial. (OIC)

  • Groundwater Seepage Trial. (OIC)

  • ORIA Annual Groundwater Elevation and Water-table Depth 1995 to 2008. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • ORIA Groundwater Drainage and Discharge Evaluation: Survey of Groundwater Quality 2006. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • ORIA – Ivanhoe Plain Aquifer Pumping Trial. (CSIRO, DoW)

  • Rainfall and irrigation Controls on Groundwater Rise and Salinity Risk beneath the ORIA Northern Australia. (CSIRO)

  • Review and Assessment of Soil Salinity in the ORIA. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • Review of Groundwater Monitoring and Reporting in the Ord Stage 1 Irrigation Area. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • Aerial Electromagnetic Survey. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • Groundwater drainage trial – Deep drainage CSIRO

  • Ongoing groundwater monitoring by OIC

  • Current Status

    Ground water Levels:Analysis of bore hydrographs in the Weaber, Keep River and Knox Creek Plains has revealed periods of significant water table rise, in areas yet to be cleared, that commenced in the 1990’s in relation to higher than average rainfall events. Rises of 10 metres have been recorded in some bores. Low gradients and lack of connectivity along the palaeo-channel tends to restrict drainage towards the Keep River. Climate modelling suggests that increases in rainfall trends are unlikely to reverse in the short to medium term

    Information from bores on Ivanhoe and Packsaddle Plains also showed accelerated rises in the 1990’s. However, since 2000, groundwater levels have tended to level out as the water table has risen to the drainage levels of the irrigation system. This has been assisted by the local influence of large areas of maturing tree plantations.

    Irrigation Management:The amount of irrigation water entering the groundwater can be minimised by managing irrigation water to supply the optimum amount of water to the plant while minimising the amount of water running off or infiltrating to deeper levels (refer Section 3.2 - Irrigation Management Section).

    Strategies – Ground water Levels

    Strategy 1

    Reduce the rate of entry of water into the ground water by:

    1. Improving irrigation management through proper bay design and where justifiable using systems that give greater control over irrigation efficiency.

    2. Using flocculants to reduce irrigation time.

    3. Reducing leakage by identifying leaky areas in irrigation bays and adjusting irrigation and crop management to suit.

    4. Identifying and sealing leaky parts of channels and drainage infrastructure.

    5. Controlling soil “cracking” and thereby reducing recharge.

    Strategy 2

    Remove and reuse ground water by:

    1. Strategically planting high water use trees throughout each of the irrigation areas.

    Strategy 3

    Monitor management impacts and improved management methods by

    1. Continuing to monitor ground water levels across the irrigation area.

    Strategy 4

    Meet required Environmental Management Plans for irrigation areas in the Ord Catchment.

    Responsibility – Ground water Levels

    Many of the necessary changes to irrigation management have occurred since the development of the Water Use Improvement Plan by the Ord Irrigation Cooperative, Ord Land and Water and farmers. However, constant incremental improvements will involve farmers continuing to commit to on-farm modifications and to infrastructure and management systems that will affect farm operating costs.

    Research into new systems and the testing of existing, but locally untried solutions, should be a responsibility shared between farmers and the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia.

    Ongoing monitoring of Stage 1 of the Ord River Irrigation Area drainage system should remain the responsibility of the Ord Irrigation Cooperative and the Department of Water should maintain its program of monitoring of the Ord River.

    Strategies – Ground water Quality

    While salinity is the greatest risk to ground water quality, controlling rising levels of ground water will reduce the impact. It is important to pay greater attention to the risk of other forms of ground water contamination, as they could have serious consequences for future use of the underground water resource as well as potential environmental damage. There are significant potential risks to human health should drinking water supplies become contaminated.

    Strategy 1

    Minimise the risk of contaminating ground water by

    1. Developing management systems that reduce the risk of mobile nutrients and heavy metals from reaching the ground water.

    Strategy 2

    Provide useful information on the levels of contamination by:

    1. Monitoring ground water quality throughout the irrigation area.

    Strategy 3

    Meet required Environmental Management Plans for irrigation areas in the Ord Catchment

    Responsibilities – Ground water Quality

    The Ord Irrigation Cooperative, Kimberley Agricultural Investment Pty Ltd, Department of Water and other stakeholders should be involved in monitoring the quality of ground water throughout the irrigation area. Farmers should be responsible for introducing management methods to minimise the risks of contamination and they should be encouraged to adopt regular monitoring in quality assurance programs.

    References

    1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

    2. Ord Reference Group. (2009) The Ord Catchment National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality Program 2004 – 2009: Unpublished.

    3. Lawrie, K.C., Tan, K.P., Clark, J.C., Munday, T.J., Fitzpatrick, A., Brodie, R.S., Apps, H., Halas, L., Cullen, K., Pain, C.F., Kuske, T.J., Cahill, K., & Davies, A., (2010). Using the SkyTEM Time Domain Airborne Electromagnetics (AEM) System to Map Aquifer Systems and Salinity Hazard in the Ord Valley Western Australia: Geoscience Australia Professional Opinion.

    4. O’Boy, C.A. (1998) Ord River Irrigation Area Long-Term Test Pumping, Hydrogeology Report No. 125/1998: Water and Rivers Commission.

    5. Yesertener, C. (1997) Review of Ground water Monitoring Data in the Ord River Irrigation Area, Hydrogeology Report HR60: Water and Rivers Commission.

    6. Sinclair Knight Merz. (1998) Ord River Irrigation Area Stage 1 – Control of Rising Ground water Level: Water Corporation Western Australia.

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    Irrigation wheels Ord

    Irrigation Management

    Goal

    • To ensure specific management practices are used and there are constant improvements in on-farm water use efficiency and the delivery of water to farms.

    Background

    Irrigation is used to provide an appropriate amount of water for optimising crop production. Irrigation requirements vary from crop to crop and are aimed at replacing evaporation, or part thereof, depending on the crop water use characteristics. On the Ord, the average evaporation is more than 3000 mm and the average rainfall close to 760 mm. The very high evaporative demand has implications for crop water requirements as well as the design of water storage.

    The predominant soil types used for irrigated agriculture in the Ord River Irrigation Area, are the Cununurra and Aquitaine clays. Smaller areas of levee, sandy and red loam soils are also irrigated. Characteristics vary greatly between these soils and determine irrigation management requirements.

    The majority of broad-acre crops, sandalwood and some horticulture crops are grown on the clay soils. Water requirements and irrigation management practices vary between crops, although most are watered by furrow irrigation. The levee and sandy soils are used mainly for fruit trees and annual horticultural crop production, using either under-tree micro-sprinklers, or trickle irrigation. Sandalwood at Kingston’s Rest, south of Kununurra, is grown on a mixture of sandy loams through to heavy clay with the sole irrigation method being reticulation.

    The Ord Irrigation Co-operative was established in 1996, and other than the M1 Channel, assumed ownership of the water delivery assets from the Water Corporation and responsibility for water delivery to farmers in Stage 1 of the Ord River Irrigation Area. The co-operative is governed by a Board of Directors made up of shareholders. Shareholdings are limited to licensed water users. The Ord Irrigation Co-operative operates within specific licensing requirements and has a water use improvement plan that is tied in to its licence.

    Irrigation management projects undertaken since 2000

  • Ord Bonaparte Program sub-programs 3 – Integrated Water Resource Management and Planning and sub-program and 4 – Sustainable Coastal and Marine Systems.

  • Demonstrating Sustainable Farm Management Systems. (DAFWA, OLW)

  • On-farm Water Use Efficiency Tool. (DAFWA, OLW)

  • 2006 Sediment Survey in Lake Argyle. (DoW)

  • Innovations in Flood Furrow Irrigation Systems in the ORIA. (OIC, DAFWA)

  • Level Basin Irrigation Trial. (OIC)

  • Trialing water re-use in the Ord. (OIC)

  • Measuring On-farm Water Use Efficiency. (DAFWA)

  • Current Status

    Strategies to improve irrigation practices for individual crops have been investigated throughout the life of the Ord River Irrigation Area, particularly since the release of the Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000 and the Ord Irrigation Co-operative’s Water Use Improvement Plan. Since that time significant steps have been taken to increase water use efficiency at both the farm and delivery level. There is now a much greater area being irrigated with pressurised reticulation, bank-less channels and flooded bays, as farmers try to improve their irrigation practices.

    Strategy 1

    Improve water use efficiency and reduce surface water losses by:

    1. Ensuring optimal plant needs are met without over-watering.

    2. Investigating, demonstrating and adopting alternative irrigation systems for local soils.

    3. Disseminating information on optimal field layouts for the needs of local soil types.

    4. Ensuring irrigation fields are levelled to appropriate grades.

    Strategy 2

    Improve water use efficiency and reduce ground water recharge by:

    1. Developing irrigation and drainage systems to manage soils of high permeability.

    2. Adopting management practices that minimise accessions to ground water during pre-irrigation and initial crop irrigation.

    3. Ensuring that any on-farm water storage associated with tail water re-use is correctly sealed to prevent accessions to the ground water.

    Strategy 3

    Provide research, demonstration and monitoring services to:

    1. Quantify the level of accessions to ground water and measure trends in ground water levels.

    2. Quantify the volume of water leaving farms as irrigation tail water.

    3. Develop guides for irrigation field layout and bed and furrow configuration for optimal water use efficiency.

    Strategy 4

    Meet required Environmental Management Plans for irrigation areas in the Ord Catchment

    Strategy 5

    Meet requirements of the Ord Irrigation Co-operative Water Use Improvement Plan.

    Responsibilities

    By far the largest commitment in terms of direct costs associated with the continued implementation of these strategies will need to be made by the farming community and the Ord Irrigation Co-operative. To partially balance this, it is likely that farmers will also be the beneficiaries of the improved management through reduced water costs and improved crop performance. The Ord Irrigation Co-operative will not directly benefit as increased efficiency translates directly into reduced sales. However by reducing leakage through the replacement of aging infrastructure the cooperative will be meeting its licensing conditions and community expectations through the Water Use Improvement Plan.

    There will be a requirement to support long term monitoring and research from the Ord Irrigation Co-operative, and a number of State Government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. Specific approaches to research and development Corporations and funding entities may be necessary to develop any new management guides, monitoring methods and management practices.

    References

    1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

    2. Ord Reference Group. (2009) The Ord Catchment National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality Program 2004 – 2009: Unpublished.

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    Cane Irrigation

    Surface Water Quality

    Goal

  • That continuous improvement of water quality moving off farm occurs.

  • Background

    Surface water quality is adversely affected by the presence of sediment and the nutrients and chemical residue carried by the sediment and dissolved in the water. The origin of these inputs during no rainfall periods is most likely farms, when the sediment, chemicals and nutrients used move off-farm during the irrigation process.

    Surface water quality projects undertaken since 2000

  • Ord Bonaparte Program sub-programs 3 – Integrated Water Resource Management and Planning and sub-program and 4 – Sustainable Coastal and Marine Systems.

  • Assessment of Pesticides in Aquatic Organisms – Ord River WA. (DoW)

  • Improving Monitoring of Biocides in the ORIA. (OIC)

  • Kununurra Storm Water Monitoring Report. (SWEK)

  • North West Water Quality Monitoring. (DoW, OIC)

  • Response of the Lower Ord River and Estuary to Changes in Flow and Sediment and Nutrient Loads. (CSIRO)

  • Sediment and Salinity Monitoring of the ORIA. (OIC)

  • Weaber Plain Catchment Erosion Case Study. (SWEK)

  • Demonstrating Sustainable Farm Management Systems. (DAFWA, OLW)

  • Pesticide Project. (OLW & CSIRO)

  • Best Management Practices for Soluble Pesticide use in the ORIA. (OLW)

  • Aerial Electromagnetic Survey. (CSIRO, DoW, OIC)

  • Chemical Risk in the ORIA (OIC)

  • Artificial Wetland Monitoring in the ORIA. (OLW)

  • Pesticide Management in the ORIA. (OLW)

  • Polyacrylamide usage in the ORIA. (OLW)

  • On-farm Water Quality Monitoring in the ORIA (OIC)

  • On-farm Water Quality Monitoring Trial (OIC)

  • Chemicals

    The general Community considers chemicals entering the river via surface water as being a critical issue. In April 1998, the Water and Rivers Commission and the Ord Irrigation Co-operative committed to designing and implementing a program to monitor water quality throughout the irrigation area, the Ord River and some tributaries.

    Since the sampling program began, there has been a decline in the percentage of water samples taken from drains where the indicator chemicals Atrazine and Endosulphan have been detected. On only three occasions Atrazine has exceeded the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) guidelines, for fresh and marine water quality.

    Nutrients

    Nutrient-enriched tail water moving off farms has the potential to severely degrade the river system. However, the impacts are generally not associated with fish kills in the Ord River due to its constant artificial flows. In other local natural river systems nutrients can build from the breakdown of organic matter washed into the river and as a result create algal blooms that in turn can cause fish kills.

    Sediment

    Costs associated with maintaining drainage infrastructure and the loss of topsoil from farms make sediment reduction an important economic consideration for farmers. A significant proportion of nutrient and chemical movement off farm is on the small colloid particles within the sediments. Therefore, reducing both large particle sediment and retaining the colloid fraction on farm is necessary if the river system is to be protected. Dry season sediment entering the Ord River is thought to be partially responsible for a reduction in water clarity and an associated reduction in river grass production.

    Dunham River

    The Dunham River is a tributary of the Ord River. The confluence of these two rivers is downstream of the Diversion Dam wall. Tail water from farms on Packsaddle empty into Packsaddle Creek, and in turn into the Dunham, approximately four kilometres upstream of its mouth. During the Dry Season there is an altered flow regime in the section of the river between the Packsaddle Creek confluence and the mouth of the Dunham. The reduced flow rates have the potential to cause water quality problems, for example oxygen depletion in the deep pools, associated with slow flowing systems and the inclusion of potential contaminants.

    Current Status

    Tail water can transport sediment, nutrients and chemical residue from farms into the environment. Tail water from the Stage 1 irrigation area enters the Ord and Dunham Rivers and Lake Kununurra in a number of locations. Tail water from the Goomig Farm Area is recycled and in ordinary circumstances would not leave the farm during the Dry Season. The system is designed to hold the first 25mm of first flush stormwater run-off, before subsequent flows are directed into the Keep River by way of Border Creek.

    Strategies

    Strategy 1

    Reducing sediment loads in tail water by:

    1. Ensuring all irrigated fields and outlets are designed to minimise soil movement off farm.

    2. Employing and maintaining erosion stops and sediment traps.

    Strategy 2

    Reduce the volume of tail water by:

    1. Ensuring goals in section 3.2 Irrigation management are met.

    2. Ensuring proper design and maintenance of on-farm recycling systems.

    Strategy 3

    Use farm practices designed to reduce erosion during both cropping and wet seasons by:

    1. Using Polyacrylamide to improve irrigation efficiency and retain sediment on field.

    2. Reducing the number of unnecessary cultivation passes and using minimum tillage practices where possible.

    3. Growing cover crops and maintaining crop stubble to reduce erosion during high intensity rainfall events.

    Strategy 4

    Employing off farm management options by:

    1. Demonstrating and installing artificial wetlands within the drainage systems.

    2. Maintaining effective vegetation cover on drainage channel walls, high erosion risk areas in drains and areas adjacent to drains

    Strategy 5

    Minimise the risk of fertiliser movement off-farm by:

    1. Accurately placing fertiliser within the plant root zone.

    2. Applying fertiliser amounts matched to crop demands.

    3. Applying Polyacrylamide to irrigations following fertiliser placement particularly when fertilisers are spread rather than placed within the root zone.

    Strategy 6

    Prevent fertiliser from reaching the river system by:

    1. Constructing and management of artificial wetlands on major drains within Ord River Irrigation Area Stage 1.

    2. Proper design, construction and maintenance of the Goomig Farm Area recycling systems.

    3. Encouraging the use of less mobile forms of fertilisers.

    Strategy 7

    Reduce the risk of chemical movement off-farm and channels by:

    1. Developing and implementing codes of practice for the application of chemicals.

    2. Implementing application methods based on accurate placement of chemicals.

    3. Using less volatile formulations of chemicals.

    Strategy 8

    Reduce the amount of chemical used by:

    1. Ensuring spray operators and farmers use up to date information on correct application rates.

    2. Using chemicals only when spraying is necessary.

    3. Utilising modern gene technology so that crops rely less on chemical control of pests.

    4. Developing farming systems that maximise natural plant defences against pest and disease attack.

    5. Developing on-farm Integrated Pest Management strategies.

    Strategy 9

    Reduce the environmental risk posed by chemical by:

    1. Ensuring spray operators only use chemicals as per the registration instructions.

    2. Encourage the use of environmentally friendly products where appropriate.

    Strategy 10

    Provide research, demonstration, monitoring and training services to:

    1. Monitor regularly sediment, nutrient and chemical loads of drains and river systems.

    2. Monitor tail water flow volume.

    3. Investigate and demonstrate new management initiatives.

    4. Encourage the use of crop scouting services to monitor pest populations.

    5. Ensure registration of appropriate chemicals for crops being grown in the region.

    6. Encourage the continued development and availability of new improved chemicals.

    7. Provide training in chemical use, farming methods and nutrition management in crops.

    Strategy 11

    Improve the quality of water flowing through the Dunham River by:

    1. Developing constructed wetlands on the Packsaddle drainage system to filter water prior to its entry into the Dunham River,

    2. Bypassing water from Lake Kununurra through the irrigation system to the Dunham River to dilute any drainage water from the irrigation area.

    3. Managing the water flows in the Ord to improve the management of the Dunham River during the dry season.

    Strategy 12

    Meet required Environmental Management Plans for irrigation areas in the Ord Catchment

    Responsibilities

    By far the largest ongoing commitment in terms of direct costs associated with implementing these strategies will need to be made by farmers, Kimberley Agricultural Investment Pty Ltd and the Ord Irrigation Co-operative. To partially balance this, it is likely that they will also be the beneficiaries of improved management through reduced soil and nutrient loss.

    There will be a requirement for commitment to support long term monitoring and research from a number of State Government Agencies, including The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, the Water Corporation and the Department of Water. The Department of Water should be urged to maintain monitoring of the Ord River. Farmers will need to inform themselves about the best chemical options that are available to them, especially in regards to the use of these in irrigation areas and under sub-tropical conditions.

    References

    1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

    2. Ord Reference Group. (2009) The Ord Catchment National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality Program 2004 – 2009: Unpublished.

    3. Landcorp. (2011) Goomig Farm Area Environmental Management Plan 2011: Department of State Development, Government of Western Australia.

    4. Ord Irrigation Cooperative. (2013) Annual report 2013: Unpublished.

    5. Australian & New Zealand Environment & Conservation Council. (1992) Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters: Australian Water Association.

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    Yellow winged grasshopper
    Pest and Chemical Management

    Goals

    • That all farms use Integrated Pest Management strategies for crop production.

    • That all chemical users use chemical resistance strategies.

    • That all farm chemical users are accredited.

    • That all storage facilities comply with Australian and Western Australian standards.

    Background

    The wise use of chemicals is critical to farm sustainability and is a component of best management practices in modern agriculture. There are a number of issues relating to the sustainable use of chemicals that need to be considered, including the management of resistance in pest species, development of integrated pest management systems, and spraying operations.

    All farming operations, to some degree, are dependent upon the application of chemicals. Agricultural chemicals may be harmful to humans and can affect all forms of life and should therefore be handled carefully and only used in accordance with approved (registered) procedures. All contained chemicals are supplied with information on the correct use and handling of the chemical concerned.

    Whilst there are no specific requirements for accreditation (certification) for users of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Western Australia, Farmsafe Australia advocates the training and accreditation of all users of agricultural chemicals to meet their Occupational Health and Safety responsibilities. In WA, there is a requirement for all users of any hazardous substances to receive appropriate training and if they apply chemicals for a fee or reward in WA they must be also licensed by the WA Department of Health. Many food Quality Assurance programs also require an accreditation for chemical users.

    Current Regulations

    All farm storage of chemicals should comply with relevant Australian and Western Australian Standards, including Australian Standard AS 2507-1998 “The storage and handling of agricultural and veterinary chemicals” and Department of Water Toxic and Hazardous Substances – Storage and Use WQPN No. 65.

    Resistance Management

    Prolonged exposure of pests to a particular chemical will lead, through selection pressure, to the development of resistance to that chemical. This resistance will continue to build up until the chemical becomes less effective. Resistance to one chemical in a particular group may transfer resistance to other similar chemicals. The biology of pests, in particular insects, and plants is such that eventually they will develop resistance to repeatedly applied chemicals.

    There are ongoing resistance management strategies for a number of pests in the Ord River Irrigation Area, including Helicoverpa species, melon aphids, some fungal diseases, and barnyard grass that have shown chemical resistance.

    All chemical users play an integral role in controlling resistance in pest species by having input into the resistance management strategy at the beginning of each season.

    Integrated Pest Management

    The aim of Integrated Pest Management is to reduce the use of chemicals in pest management, and instead use a combination of control measures (biological, cultural, genetic and chemical) and therefore not rely solely on the use of chemicals.

    Current Knowledge

    Current pest control strategies for the Ord River Irrigation Area have been developed over years of scientific study and practical application. Some practices imported from other areas have not proven to be effective, however, new approaches are continually being tried in an attempt to reduce expenditure on chemicals and reduce environmental risks.

    Strategies Strategy 1

    Reduce the risk of resistance to chemicals by:

    1. Using all chemicals according to recommended rates and concentrations.

    2. Adhering to a spray calendar aimed at protecting individual chemical groups.

    3. Using chemicals only when crop scouting indicates that spraying is necessary.

    4. Using Integrated Pest Management systems to minimise the use of chemicals.

    5. Developing an understanding of the patterns of resistance development to enable reliable prediction of likely problems.

    Strategy 2

    Increase the adoption of Integrated Pest Management by:

    1. Demonstrating the advantages of using a range of control measures.

    2. Further researching management methods to enhance current Integrated Pest Management systems.

    Strategy 3

    Ensure optimal performance of all spray operators by:

    1. Ensuring all operators are properly accredited

    2. Encouraging the use of sophisticated spray equipment that permits greater control over drift, chemical placement and amounts of chemical used.

    Strategy 4

    Ensure the safe handling and storage of chemicals by:

    1. Creating greater awareness of the safe use and storage guidelines.

    2. Encouraging users to promote safe chemical storage and handling on farm.

    3. Ensuring that safe handling and wash down areas are included in Quality Assurance programs.

    4. Locating spray rig filling and chemical mixing facilities away from channels and drains and ensuring that the facilities are designed to safely contain spills.

    5. Ensuring chemical users are appropriately accredited.

    Strategy 5

    Ensure the safe disposal of used chemical containers by:

    1. Using the Drum Muster Program.

    Strategy 6

    Meet required Environmental Management Plans for irrigation areas in the Ord Catchment.

    Responsibilities

    Spray operators and chemical suppliers need to work together to improve systems. Any new practices will involve certain levels of risk to users as control programs will be generally be more sophisticated. There may be cost savings through reduced chemical use. Importantly, plant breeders and seed producers need to be more involved in the advancement of innovative integrated pest management.

    Government research providers have a responsibility to help farmers to develop management systems that are less dependent upon chemicals. They should also be involved with ensuring adoption of the new practices, as they become available.

    The Department of Mines and Petroleum carries prime responsibility for regulating Dangerous Goods in Western Australia and ensuring safety, health and environmental standards are consistent with relevant State and Commonwealth legislation, regulations and policies. The Department of Environment Regulation is a regulatory agency responsible for administering the Environmental Protection Act 1986. WorkSafe is the Western Australian Government agency responsible for the administration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Occupational Health and safety Regulations 1996 and has responsibility for working with farmers, suppliers and users regarding the storage and use of pesticides safely.

    References

    1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

    2. Safe Work Australia. (2014) Western Australian Regulators, Worksafe WA: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/

    3. Department of Environment Regulation. (2014) Enforcement: https://www.der.wa.gov.au/

    4. Agriculture Western Australia. (1999) Cucurbit Pest Newsletter, No 4, September 1999: Agriculture Western Australia.

    5. Agriculture Western Australia. (1999) Resistance Management Strategy for Helicoverpa spp in the Ord River Irrigation Area for 1999: Agriculture Western Australia.

    6. Agriculture Western Australia. (1999) Resistance Management Strategy for Cucurbit pests in the Ord River Irrigation Area for 1999: Agriculture Western Australia.

    7. University of Adelaide. (1999) Integrated Pest Management: www.waite.adelaide.edu.au

    8. The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Limited. (1998) A Review, Aircraft in Australian Agriculture: The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Limited.

    9. Woods, N., Lisle, R., (1988) Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia, Operation Spray Safe: Pilots and Operators Manual.

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    Aerial Spraying

    Fuel Storage on Farm

    Goals

    • That all farm fuel storages comply with Australian and Western Australian standards.

    • Background

      The State Departments of Environmental Regulation and Mines and Petroleum, Local Government and Standards Australia provide requirements on the installation of storage tanks and the storage of fuel at any location.

      Current Regulations

      Regulations referring to the storage of flammable or combustible liquid and are sourced from the Dangerous Goods Safety (Storage and Handling of Non-explosives) Regulations 2007 (WA) and the Australian Standard AS 1940-2004: “The Storage and Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids”.

      Strategies

      Strategy 1

      Ensure safe storage of fuel by:

      1. Distributing guidelines to all farmers and other users of drum or bulk fuel.

      2. Enforcing regulations and guidelines for fuel storage in bulk and drums.

      Strategy 2

      Prevent surface movement of fuel and oil products by:

      1. Developing and enforcing Shire by-laws that prohibit the use of waste fuel and lubricants on road and track surfaces.

      Responsibility

      Uptake and adherence to guidelines depends upon farmer and general community involvement and willingness to cooperate. Regulations relating to storage are the responsibility of the Department of Mines and Petroleum while the enforcement of local by-laws requires a commitment from the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley. Farmer groups and the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley should be involved in developing and effectively delivering advice and information about fuel storage and the safe handling of waste products.

      The Department of Environment Regulation is a regulatory agency responsible for administering the Environmental Protection Act 1986. WorkSafe is the Western Australian Government agency responsible for the administration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. It has responsibility for working with farmers, suppliers and other users to ensure that guidelines for the safe storage and use of fuel are adhered to.

      References

      1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

      2. Department of Mines and Petroleum. (2007) Dangerous Goods Safety Act 2004, Storage and Handling of Non-explosives Regulations 2007 (WA): http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/.

      3. Standards Australia. (2004) Australian Standard. 2004, AS 1940-2004, The Storage and Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids: Standards Australia.

      4. Safe Work Australia. (2014) Western Australian Regulators, Worksafe WA: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/

      5. Department of Environment Regulation. (2014) Enforcement: https://www.der.wa.gov.au/

      6. Department of Minerals and Energy – Explosives and Dangerous Goods Division. (1998) Guidance Note S319 REV1, (1998) Storage of Dangerous Goods on Farming Premises, Conditions for Exemption from Licensing, Australian Standard TM , The storage and handling of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, AS2507 – 1998: Standards Australia.

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    Melon packing

    Secondary Processing

    Goals

    • That all secondary processing facilities operate at or above Australian best management practices for by-product management.

    Background

    Secondary processing has formed a small but significant component of the Ord River Irrigation Area agricultural industry for many years. The Ord River District Cooperative (ORDCO) provides a seed cleaning and grading service for farmers and there are several fruit packing facilities in the valley. A cotton gin was built in the 1960’s when cotton was initially grown and decommissioned in 1974. Further to initial trials in the Ord River Irrigation Area of genetically modified (GM) cotton, it was grown commercially in the area between 1997 and 2000, at which time it was processed through a single stand cotton gin that was established by Collie Cotton in the ORDCO former ginning facility. A sugar cane industry established in 1995 included the construction of a small (less than 2000 tonnes) sugar mill which was operated for over a decade until its closure when sugar ceased to be grown in 2007. Significantly, secondary processing has been impacted by fluctuations in global commodity prices and lack of local economies of scale.

    Current Status

    Secondary processing in irrigated agriculture in the East Kimberley is currently limited to the cleaning and grading of seed crops at the Ord River District Cooperative and by RB Desert Seed Company. ORDCO sells some by-products from this process as stock feed. Total waste from processing is between five and seven tonnes a year.

    A seed cleaning, grading and packaging facility for small seeds, for example chia and ancient grain, quinoa is proposed for the old sugar mill site.

    Strategies

    Strategy 1

    Ensure all other waste products are disposed of correctly by:

    1. Encouragement of the production and use of compost.

    2. Including its return as an integral component of processing.

    Strategy 2

    Ensure all other waste products are disposed off correctly by:

    1. Applying appropriate waste management strategies and complying with relevant regulations and guidelines.

    Strategy 3

    Ensure surface water, ground water and air quality is not adversely affected by:

    1. Ensuring the development and implementation of appropriate environmental practices.

    2. Ensuring efficient and effective use of energy and natural resources.

    Responsibilities

    The Ord River District Cooperative has taken responsibility for reducing waste by on-selling as much as possible and storing the remainder on site. If waste tonnage were to increase significantly the Cooperative would have responsibility for its disposal and should encourage the return of by-products to farms.

    The Department of Environment Regulation (DER) is a regulatory agency responsible for administering the following environmental legislation:

  • Environmental Protection Act 1986;

  • Contaminated Sites Act 2003; and/

  • Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007.

  • DER and other Agencies would have responsibilities with regard to the development of secondary processing within the ORIA, dependent on the nature of the processing.

    References

    1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.

    2. Department of Environment Regulation. (2014) Enforcement: https://www.der.wa.gov.au/.

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    Goomig development

    Agricultural Land Management

    Goals

    • That appropriate land is developed properly and incorporates the protection of adjacent environmental values.

    Background

    Demand pressures associated with the growth of non-agricultural economic and lifestyle rural land use has occurred in the Ord River Irrigation Area for many years, for example in the Packsaddle and Riverfarm Road locations. The close proximity of small non-agricultural blocks to large irrigated agricultural land holdings has triggered issues related to chemical usage, noise and machinery usage with the outcomes impinging on farm production.

    Agricultural land also borders significant environmental assets and natural landscape values and is an important consideration in local planning for rural areas. For example, the Goomig Farm Area has been developed with a 42,500 hectare buffer area between it and the adjoining Goomig and Darrmalanka Conservation Reserves.

    Current Status

    The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia has a role to ensure land resources meet future industry needs in line with the State Government's Priority Plan for Agriculture by providing information and advice to the Western Australian Planning Commission, the Department of Planning and Local Government Authorities to assist with their strategic planning processes. The Department also provides advice to the Departments of Lands and Regional Development in relation to requests for land release. Land use planning for agriculture requires sufficient suitable land to support current and future development needs of agriculture.

    Strategies

    Strategy 1

    Prevent the rezoning of priority agricultural land to uses other than agricultural production by:

    1. Ensuring the community has a good understanding of the role of agricultural land within the region and its significance in food production.

    2. Ensuring the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley has a strategic land use planning program that recognises the importance of agricultural land.

    Strategy 2

    Prevent the degradation of priority environmental areas through the use of buffer areas by:

    1. Ensuring that there is a requirement in agricultural land use planning for buffer area options to be an integral component of the process.

    Responsibilities

    The Western Australian Planning Commission, the Department of Planning and the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley have the responsibility through their strategic planning processes of supporting current and future agricultural development needs.

    The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia has a responsibility to provide information and advice to these planning organisations by -

  • Identifying and advising on the preservation of high quality agricultural land.

  • Providing advice to the Western Australian Planning Commission on cases before the State Administrative Tribunal, particularly where high capability agricultural land is potentially impacted.

  • Identifying and advising on impacts to agriculture in planning proposals for urban and semi-rural development and rural growth areas.

  • Assisting in identifying suitable separation distances and buffers between land uses potentially competing with agriculture and processing land to avoid land use conflict.

  • References

    1. The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. (2013). Land Use Planning for Agriculture and Food 2013: www.agric.wa.gov.au/

    2. Western Australian Planning Commission. (2012) State Planning Policy 2.5 Land Use Planning in Rural Areas: www.planning.wa.gov.au/

    3. Landcorp. (2011) Goomig Farm Area Environmental Management Plan 2011: Government of Western Australia, Department of State Development.

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