Transcript of Interview with Matt Norrie, “Mollee” Narrabri
Hi, my name’s Mitch Carter from AIM Consultants’ . During the 06/07 and 07/08 seasons, the Namoi CMA provided incentive funding for growers to undertake specified activities to improve their whole farm water use efficiency. Some of these activities included installing soil moisture monitoring, surveying storages, installing storage meters, seepage and evaporation assessment meters on storages and in field irrigation evaluations. The following video is based on interviews carried out in January 2009 and will hopefully provide an insight into the views expressed by the growers relating to the different aspects of their projects.
Question: What are your thoughts on the Irrimate irrigation evaluations?
Matt Norrie: I think they’ve been quite useful. Being able to see actually how much water comes on the paddock, how much comes off, how much we’re using them, using them in correlation with the c-probes and getting pretty good picture of what’s going on.
Question: What practice changes have you made as a result of the Irrimate evaluations?
Matt Norrie: Yeah, the aim was to run singles and doubles side by side, to try and get, and we had c-probes in each site, to try and get an exact idea of a comparison. You know, water use efficiency, yield, quality, all aspects of what we’re trying to do. But the way the season turned out, every time we went to irrigate it rained, so we never really got to spread the irrigations out far enough to get a good evaluation.
Question: Thoughts on surveying your storages and installing a storage meter?
Matt Norrie: Oh its been quite useful, we’ve always had a pretty good idea of how, oh, how big our storages were. And when the survey was carried out, we had one storage, one small storage stored 150 megalitres, the survey found it stored 153, so that wasn’t too far out. And the new storage that we built, it’s been very handy to have a storage meter on that. Each irrigation we know exactly how much water we’re taking out and how many hectares and it’s not too hard to work out how much water we’re using each irrigation.
Question: What benefits have you found by using the soil moisture probes?
Matt Norrie: They’re an essential tool these days for, for our irrigation, we’re watching them everyday, especially this time of the year we’re able to pick exactly when we think we need to, when we need to water, allows us to plan ahead, if we, when you can see rainy weather or warmer weather coming, you know exactly where your crop is up to and make management decisions.
Question: What are your thoughts on measuring the whole farm water balance with the Water Track program?
Matt Norrie: I think its information we need to be able to gather, to show not only ourselves but the rest of the people in our industry, how much water we’re using. Its good to get a benchmark on return for megalitre and that sort of thing, so yeah its good and its all part of to know how much water we’re using and where we can improve.
Question: Your thoughts on benchmarking you water use efficiency figures against other farmers?
Matt Norrie: It’s good to see where you sit amongst others and certainly highlight some areas we can improve and some areas where we are probably doing alright, but that’s not to say we can’t improve where we are doing alright.
Question: Do you think the seepage and evaporation assessment is an important part of measuring your water use efficiency?
Matt Norrie: Losing water out of your storages that’s a direct cost to your business and if there’s ways it can be rectified well then it’s probably money well invested as water becomes more valuable.
Question: Have you improved your water use efficiency?
Matt Norrie: I think we have. That’s probably contributed to two factors, there’s one is yield, we’ve been able to lift our yield over the last few years, and water use efficiency. I think through work with Mitch Carter, AIM Consultants’ , we’ve been able to, he’s advised on ways we can manage fields better in places, sort of opened our eyes up to, our eyes up to a few things like doubling up siphons in certain areas and singles in others.
Question: In order to remain sustainable what are the key areas relating to your system and management that you think you need to improve?
Matt Norrie: There’s definitely some fields that probably do need some major changes. We can see some inefficiencies in some places some waterlogging, or then, you have rows being excessively long, others being excessively short. We can see how, better ways we can manage that, so its just a matter of time and I think we’ll get there but as water becomes more valuable we’ve got to be able to use it better.