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Waianiwa Farms Pty Ltd, owned and managed by Lindsay Hamilton is located 5km north west of Waaia in the Murray Valley. His family has a long dairy farming history in New Zealand and Lindsay is very committed to the industry.

Some years ago he shifted to Victoria to take advantage of opportunities presented by the lower dairy farming land costs in Northern Victoria, as compared to New Zealand. This has proved to be a sound commercial judgement – with the family now owning several farms here.

Farming Enterprise

The Waaia property supports a 250 head Jersey milking herd run over three properties, covering a total area of 150ha.

Prior to the completion of the OFIEP project, the farms supported pastures of annuals and perennial rye grass under flood irrigation systems, fed from GMW channels.

Project Description

The Hamilton project covers an area of 54ha, involving the decommissioning of the existing flood irrigation layouts and installation of 30ha of K-Line and 24ha of fixed sprinkler spray systems. The project also included funding for all associated pipelines, two new pumps, irrigation controllers and a new power connection.

The new system is run on a rotational basis with irrigation occurring over each area every third night.

It was estimated that the project would result in water savings of 6ML/ha. Experience so far during the 2013/14 season has demonstrated that at least this volume of water saving can be achieved through operation of the new spray system compared to the old flood irrigation layouts.

Importantly for the farming business, it has been estimated that the project has resulted in an increase of 20% in the growth of pasture under the sprays, supporting an increase of some 10% in stocking rates.

This has meant that it is no longer necessary to place young stock on a neighbouring property as the whole dairy herd can now be maintained on the farm year round, resulting in a significant cost saving.

Lindsay is very focussed on the health and welfare of his animals. He has been delighted to see them cool off under the sprinklers in hot weather – with very little reduction in milk volumes – a significant added benefit for the enterprise (and quite an improvement on usual outcomes in hot weather in the dairy industry).

The way the system is configured with 18 controller and two pumps means that there is no need for laser levelling and no need for recycling and reuse as the system offers sufficient flexibility and control to allow the correct amount of water to be applied under all conditions. This in turn has benefits in soil health.

The system still requires a certain amount of labour to move sprinklers and pipes around as the rotations occur. However Lindsay reports enthusiastically that it is far less than he needed to do with the old flood system – no longer involves night work – and has the extra benefit that he comes right into the paddocks to move systems and gets to see his pasture development in much tighter focus than would be the case when operating flood gates at the edges of paddocks.

Report Card

  • Increased pasture production of 20%.

  • Increased stocking rates of 10%.

  • Eliminated the need for agistment.

  • Ability to grow Lucerne more successfully.

  • Achieved water Savings of 6ML/ha in the winter of 2013.

  • No need for laser grading or recycling.

  • Increased farm production and reduced inputs.