Horticulture is extremely important to the prosperity of Australia, both in a rural and urban context. The horticulture industry includes production horticulture (fruit, vegetables and wine) and ornamental horticulture (turf and landscape).
The gross value of production in Australia was $8.4 billion (2010), ranking third in Agriculture behind the meat and grain industries. There are over 63,000 people employed in Australia to grow fruit, vegetables and nuts for the domestic and export markets. (DAFF Australian Foods Statistics 2009-10). Every 100ML of water used in horticulture generates $250,000, four jobs at the farm gate and adds $1 million to the economy (Horticulture Australia Water Initiative 2003).
Horticulture production is intensive in terms of resource use (i.e. capital, labour, fertilisers, chemicals, and water). Continued development of the horticulture industry is dependent upon growers implementing sustainable practises ie those that avoid negatively impacting on the environment and promote efficient use of resources, including water.
In recent years, the emergence of a number of water-related issues (i.e. rising water tables, salinisation, surface and ground water contamination, reduced river flows, and water supply security) has brought attention to the importance of water use efficiency.
Water Wise Rules:
Water Wise Rules will apply from 1 July 2014 The Horticulture Industry need to comply with some of the rules but also is expect from key water use to have minimal disruption to the business.
The use of a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, sprinklers or other watering systems is allowed at any time by commercial growers and market gardeners.
Other Water Wise Rules apply to the Horticulture Industry are summarised below;
- All hand held hoses must have a trigger nozzle
- No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths and driveways recommend using a broom or blower vacuum
- All vehicles should be washed with a bucket, trigger nozzle hose or pressure cleaner
Bore water and water extracted from rivers are excluded from Water Wise Rules. Some government restrictions do apply to bore water and water extracted from rivers, so always check with your local council and the NSW Office of Water.
To improve water use efficiency, growers and irrigation managers should:
- Use irrigation methods that are appropriate to the crop.
- Monitor and maintain irrigation system performance.
- Manage water application in terms of needs of the site and local weather conditions.
The benefits of saving water in horticulture include:
- Increased savings through reduced water and pumping costs.
- Reduced leaching of nutrients (and hence, reduced fertilizer application).
- Reduced amount of drainage water and surface runoff.
- Additional water for expansion or trading, and
- Less impact on environment.