Irrigation is the practice of artificially applying water to otherwise dry land. For households, this involves using a hose or sprinkler to water flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and lawns. This is irrigation in its simplest form.
Farmers and growers use specialised equipment to apply water to grow pasture for stock feed and grow crops.
Irrigators take and store water in a number of ways:
- Groundwater via wells – water is pumped from groundwater/aquifers via a well.
- Run-of-river via pipes or channels – water is pumped or moved via gravity from the river.
- Large scale storage – water is pumped or moved via gravity into a large dam or man-made reservoir.
- On farm storage – water is pumped or moved via gravity into a small storage pond on-farm.
- Piped systems – water is moved through an underground network of pipes.
- Open channel – water is moved through man-made waterways.
More than half of the irrigation water supply in New Zealand comes through irrigation schemes. An irrigation scheme provides water to a group of water users, either through pipes or open channels.
Different technologies and irrigator types are used depending on the landscape and crop to be irrigated. To find out how much water you need on your farm you can use Irricalc , a model that uses daily climate data, along with soil, crop and irrigation system data, to calculate a daily soil water balance for your farm.
Irrigation NZ's SMART (Sustainably Managed, Accountable, Responsible and Trusted) Irrigation supports farmers and growers to implement and operate irrigation in a way that’s both financially viable and environmentally sustainable. Find out more here.
More information and resources are available here.
Government regulations require all large water takes to be measured daily. Local regional councils then monitor water trends and report back to the community.