Negotiating the problems of irrigation through social learning based around an irrigator code of practice
The irrigators of the Angas Bremer region of South Australia have faced most of the problems that can afflict irrigated agriculture, including over-exploitation of groundwater, waterlogging and salinity. The irrigators set up their own code of practice in 2001 to manage these problems. This involved each grower reporting their irrigated area and water use on an annual basis, planting 2 ha of native vegetation for every 100 ML of water entitlement, installing two 6 m wells on each property to monitor the shallow aquifer and installing wetting front detectors to monitor salt in the root zone. The process was managed and paid for by the irrigators themselves and became a legal requirement as part of their water licence. This paper evaluates whether the code of practise was successful, with specific focus on the monitoring of salinity in the root zone. We found that by involving local irrigators in the processes of monitoring, the whole region was able to learn from the unfolding reality of pumping too much groundwater or importing poor quality surface water. Although the reporting requirements were onerous, compliance was very high and underpinned a decade long process of social learning, which allowed irrigators to face each challenge and prepared them for the next one.
Stirzaker, R.J. and Cutting, M. (2016). Negotiating the problems of irrigation through social learning based around an irrigator code of practice. Acta Hortic. 1112, 431-438
salinity, grapes, FullStop wetting front detector, Angas Bremer