|Author:||Boland, A.M. ; Kaine, G. ; Bewsell, D.|
|Book Group Author:||NA|
The management of water resources by orchards in the south-eastern region of Australia is an increasingly important policy issue, especially given the low water allocations and concerns about salinity in recent years. Optimal management for economic and environmental sustainability can be described as best management practice (BMP). A project was developed to run an extension program, which aimed to achieve behavioural change among orchardists through the adoption of irrigation BMPs and benchmarks. The effectiveness of the extension program was evaluated and the drivers for adoption assessed. In the first stage of the project both BMPs and benchmarks were determined for irrigation management. A survey of 200 growers showed no relationship between yield and irrigation system or irrigation volume suggesting that increased yields were not a key driver for adoption of sustainable irrigation practices. Stage two of the project involved undertaking an extension program aimed to facilitate the adoption of BMPs and benchmarks and incorporated a suite of activities to meet the learning needs of a diversity of participants (40 growers). The program was effective in establishing behavioural change for many of the growers involved; however, it was resource intensive requiring significant one-on-one input. Stage three aimed to analyse the key drivers for adoption of sustainable irrigation practices for the whole of the stone and pome fruit industry in south-eastern Australia using market research. The study determined that water use efficiency was not a key driver for adoption of sustainable irrigation practices (micro irrigation and soil moisture monitoring) and adoption was generally not limited by lack of knowledge. Groups of growers were identified where extension programs could be effective by focussing on specific information e.g. redevelopment of orchard. Other groups had no need and/or ability to change unless the external operating environment was to change e.g. regulation, access to pressurised water. The voluntary adoption of more sustainable irrigation practices will probably require extensive resources using one-on-one methodology. The extension program should not focus on the broader social objective of improved water use efficiency but promote other potential benefits (e.g. labour saving, redevelopment of production systems, management flexibility) with targeted messages for specific groups.
|Pages:||137 - 145|
extension programs, irrigation management, best managementpractices, microirrigation, sustainable agriculture, water useefficiency, irrigation scheduling, pome fruits, stone fruits, fruitgrowing, irrigation rates, irrigated farming, fruit trees, New SouthWales, Victoria (Australia)