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Modernisation has halved on-farm irrigation time

For Numurkah’s Brian Cardwell, driving efficiencies can mean multiple things.

It might include considering efficiencies at his 120-hectare dairy farm, investigating how to better recycle farm water, milking up to 250 cows or literally getting behind the wheel as part of his family transport business – Cardwell’s Buses.

He splits his time between the farm and family business, making for a busy lifestyle. He operates another 80-hectare farm in addition to his own, which is adjacent.

The farms were modernised as part of NVIRP (Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project) in July 2012 before it became the current GMW Connections Project.

Farmer Brian Cardwell

Brian Cardwell is enjoying the benefits of a modernised irrigation system on his Numurkah farm.

Work included connecting his two properties to the backbone on the Murray Valley number six channel, removal of four dethridge wheels and installing a range of new pipe and riser systems.

“Things went smoothly – we did stage one, and then stage two a year later. We did a fair portion of work over winter,” Mr Cardwell said.

“We lasered 60 acres, installed new laneways, did some re-fencing, put in new water troughs and installed pipe and risers.”

He also traded some water to help fund on-farm works and says the modernised system increased his flow rate to about 15ML.

“The advantage of pipe and riser systems is that it’s pumped – so I can control the flow of water. It’s a constant flow and you can set the timing of it.

“Now I can water in a day – it’s halved my irrigation time,” he said. “You get a really good germination strike because of the rate of water.”

Mr Cardwell estimates he’s saved up to 200ML a year thanks to the completed works.

“My money was well spent. This project has been good for the town.”

A pumped supply also means less maintenance – he no longer needs to consider weed control in channels.

When he needs to, Mr Cardwell can spread effluent over the property via the irrigation system, which he says is good for the soil.

“It’s all recycled – all the water comes into the three dams. It’s good to be able to put water on quickly.”

Mr Cardwell was born in Rochester, and grew up in Numurkah where his father later started the bus company.

Numurkah's Brian Cardwell.

Numurkah’s Brian Cardwell splits his time between the farm and the family business.

When not at the farm, Mr Cardwell can likely be found at the office, involved in managing staff, drivers and general day-to-day running of the business.

Connections Project Director Frank Fisseler said he was pleased to see the project provide long-term benefits for landowners like Mr Cardwell.

“That’s our end-goal – water savings and to create a sustainable future for farmers in our region by providing them with modernised irrigation infrastructure.”

That investment is continuing as the project progresses – with a record amount spent this winter on pipeline installations, channel remediation and channel automation.

At project completion, the $2 billion Connections Project will provide 429GL of water savings.