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The Hazeldene property is owned and managed by Dick and Mavis Hazeldene and their son Peter, and located 15km north-west of Murrabit on the Murray River in NSW.

Farming enterprise

The Hazeldene farm is a mixed cropping and stock enterprise of 2,000ha of which 1,000ha is irrigated directly from the Murray River. Since the Hazeldene’s took over the former rice and cereal farm, they have moved towards specialising in growing Lucerne for hay and stock production. The installation of spray irrigation technology has opened up new cropping options, particularly with summer crops such as corn and soybeans, and it is likely that these will be incorporated into future cropping rotations.

Project description

The Hazeldene’s project included the decommissioning of 275ha of existing contour and border check flood irrigation layouts and the installation of one lateral spray irrigator over 150ha, and two centre pivot irrigators over 125ha (1 x 50ha and 1 x 75ha). The lateral move irrigator is 800m wide and runs the length of a 1,900m lateral channel.

The project also included the construction of a 50ML storage dam and the installation of new fence lines.

In total the project is estimated to generate an average of 550ML of water savings each year. In return for project funding, 518 shares of NSW Murray general security water entitlement were transferred to the Commonwealth Government.

In winter 2013, the Hazeldene’s grew both Lucerne and winter cereals under their spray system, with some areas yielding significantly more due to better weed control. The crops were sown later than planned and this meant that there was not sufficient time after harvest to plant a summer crop.

The Hazeldene’s intend planting one third to half the area under the lateral to summer crops in 2014/15, to help them better understand the capabilities of the system. They expect that due to the lower pumping costs related to the pivots, they will be more cost effective to run. The lateral is best used on high yielding, high value crops, particularly in years when water is scarce.

The Hazeldene’s expect that the systems will deliver the anticipated water savings but there is a trade-off with the cost of system operation. The Hazeldene’s have funded an electrical power connection themselves as an addition to the project to replace the diesel pumps at the river. This will save on the need to pump twice to supply the pivots and result in a more energy efficient irrigation system.

Report card

  • Greater flexibility and capacity to grow a range of winter and summer crops
  • Water Savings of 2 to3ML/ha expected to be achieved
  • Higher yields using less water, but higher operational costs, mainly energy costs.