Increasing adoption of on-farm water recycling technology in culturally and linguistically diverse communities in a peri-urban context – key challenges and lessons
The NSW Department of Primary Industries delivered the WaterSmart Farms project through the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative. The project provided irrigation management training and infrastructure upgrade grants for licensed river, and potable water irrigators in peri-urban areas of the Sydney Basin, securing 5,900 megalitres of water savings and preventing export of 19 t of nitrogen and 7 t of phosphorus annually. Greenhouse vegetable producers in the region are mostly from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Enterprises are small with tight cash flows with uncertain land tenure due to potential rezoning. Investing in expensive water efficient infrastructure (e.g., disinfection and filtration systems) presented a major barrier to technology uptake. To address these barriers the extension team decided on a 'two-pronged' approach which utilised demonstration farms showcasing basic low-cost technology (rainwater harvesting tanks) and high-tech, high-cost recycling systems (UV, ozone, copper ionisation and ultra-filtration systems). Concurrently, the services of independent auditors were engaged to assess the water savings potential options for growers. The demonstration sites have assisted in increasing uptake of recycling projects with potable water savings of up to 23 ML per annum per site being realised along with significant reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus export into the catchment area. Financial analysis of hydroponic greenhouse vegetable recycling project sites has shown a payback period of two years. Overall, the project has provided some valuable data and lessons that will help in developing water management strategies or long-term water security and river health in peri-urban landscapes.
Jewell, L.P. (2016). Increasing adoption of on-farm water recycling technology in culturally and linguistically diverse communities in a peri-urban context – key challenges and lessons. Acta Hortic. 1112, 31-38
greenhouse vegetables, disinfection, demonstration farms, nutrient export