Lindsay Case Study Shows How New Irrigation Methods Help Australian Farm Save Water, Increase Yields

January 21, 2014

Lindsay Corporation announces the availability of a new case study that shows how overhead low pressure irrigation helps a North Queensland, Australia, farm save water and increase yields.

Hesp Farms is located in the Burdekin region of Australia, one of the country’s largest and most productive sugar cane growing areas. Since 1991, farm owners Chris and Sonya Hesp have grown 607 hectares (1,500 acres) of flood irrigated sugar cane.

The Hesps, along with other members of the Mulgrave Area Farm Integrated Action (MAFIA) grower group, recently concluded a four year sugar cane crop cycle trial comparing a lateral/pivot irrigation system to flood irrigation systems. The trial, entitled “Evaluating Alternative Irrigation for a Greener Future,” included soil moisture monitoring and tracking of water runoff and nitrogen levels. 

The trial, detailed in the case study, demonstrated that agronomically alternative irrigation systems, including overhead low pressure irrigation, can deliver water in an effective manner to grow high-yielding commercial crops of sugar cane.

The ditch-fed lateral irrigation system at Hesp Farms is 600 meters (1,968 feet) long. The Hesps planted their first sugar cane crop under the lateral in March of 2006. They have since increased their lateral irrigation use from 44 hectares (108 acres) to 132 hectares (326 acres) of farmland in the last two years.

With lateral irrigation, growers experience less water waste, according to Richard Hall, Lindsay Regional Manager, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand.

“As growers deal with the drier weather in Australia, controlling the timing and amount of water that is applied is crucial to maximum yield,” Hall says. “The overhead low pressure irrigation system on the Hesp farm helps prevent contamination to nearby water sources and compliments the trend of green cane harvesting and trash blanketing.”

Added Chris Hesp, “The lateral irrigation system is a new form of irrigation in our area. It is much more economical with water usage. As a result of green cane trash blanketing, we did not have to burn the trash and the trash on the ground actually helps to enrich the soil and keep water evaporation down, acting like a mulch.”

A free copy of the case study is available here.