Unlocking A Golden Future-Smart Irrigation

Unlocking A Golden Future-Smart Irrigation
Registrations for IrrigationNZ's 2018 national conference are now open!
'Unlocking a Golden Future through SMART Irrigation is the theme of the two-yearly event to be held from April 17-19, 2018.  
"With so much public focus on irrigation and water issues in the media, this is an important opportunity for farmers and growers, the irrigation service industry, researchers, academics, councils and other groups to discuss the future of water management and irrigation systems," says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ chief executive.
Keynote speaker Stuart Styles, the director of the irrigation training and research center in San Luis, California, will talk about how New Zealand’s irrigation practices and regulatory regime compare with elsewhere.
Dr Ros Harvey, managing director of the Australian agritech business The Yield and co-founder of the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre and the Knowledge Economy Institute, will talk about the world’s need for 60% more food by 2050.
She will argue this is possible without compromising the future and that technology can support farmers and growers to transform farming.
Panellists ANZ rural economist Con Williams; vet, dairy farmer and scientist Alison Dewes; Central Otago mayor Tim Cardogan; Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonkers; and law professor Jacinta Ruru will discuss the future of water catchment management with moderator Guyon Espiner, a RadioNZ Morning Report presenter.
Central Otago's summer fruit and wine industries rely on irrigation, and conference attendees will be able to join one of three field trips to see best practice irrigation on a range of different properties and hear from growers and farmers about how they use irrigation to improve their productivity. 
Attendees may also visit local orchards or vineyards or joining a pastoral farming tour. Each trip will look at how different irrigation systems are being used to suit local conditions.  
The conference will also include an expo of products and services designed to help improve production and irrigation efficiency and save time.  
"We have chosen Central Otago for our 2018 conference as irrigation has played an important role in the district’s past and because it also provides an interesting example of how water rights could be negotiated in the future which the rest of New Zealand could learn much from," says Curtis.
Otago at crossroads
The history of irrigation in Central Otago is closely linked to the region's gold rush. 
Rights to take and use water were first assigned in the 1860s and linked to mining, but were later used for irrigation.
The original permits issued for water use were renewable forever. In the 1930s depression the government funded irrigation expansion, e.g. the Falls Dam scheme, as public works projects, and more infrastructure was developed from the 1950s to the 1980s.  
The Resource Management Act set a deadline for historical water permits linked to mining to expire in October 2021.
Otago is now at a crossroads, with the amount of water available for irrigation expected to reduce, and water permit holders needing to look at innovative ways to optimise water use.
Local irrigation scheme representatives and farmer collectives will talk about how they are overcoming challenges and working together on innovative solutions. 
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