TIMELY rain across the region has set up crops and pasture for a good spring and though water has been in abundance recently the central west has not always been so lucky.
As a result of lengthy dry periods in years gone primary producers are ‘drought-proofing’ their properties even in wet seasons.
One such producer is Polldale Shorthorns’ principal Kim Williams who says implementing a centre pivot irrigation system has not only ‘drought-proofed’ his Dubbo property but has also made it more sustainable by re-using effluent water.
As part of Dubbo City Council’s Effluent Reuse Scheme Mr Williams, with the help of his wife Liz and son Ned, has been able to utilise treated effluent from the city’s Sewage Treatment Works for pasture irrigation.
“The scheme was developed to reduce (effluent water) discharge into the river,” Mr Williams said.
“We have been part of it (the scheme) for about five years.”
Mr Williams said the irrigation scheme was not as simple as turning on the treated water, guidelines had to be followed.
“We follow EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) guidelines and run regular soil tests,” he said.
“We also monitor and test our four high and four low surface bores for nutrient seepage.”
Contour banks also ensured no run-off on or off the pivot’s perimeter.
The 500m long irrigation system has not only value added to their 800-hectare property but has also allowed them to earn extra income through producing Lucerne hay.
“We get about six or seven cuts a year and about 2500 bales,” he said.
“Eighty-per cent is stored and sold through the winter.
“The lucerne also exports nutrients to stop build up and we test it as well.”
Mr Williams said the extra feed was also handy to have in case of a dry spell when limited pasture as available on either their Dubbo or Nyngan properties for Polldale’s 700 head of stud and commercial Shorthorn cattle.
In Dubbo City Council’s Dubbo Alive 2009-2013 report the scheme was said to demonstrate council’s commitment to sustainability principles and Mr Williams agreed the scheme had made his farming operation more sustainable.