Improving Agricultural Water Sustainability: Strategies for Effective Farm Water Management and Encouraging the Uptake of Drip Irrigation
Dalrymple, John F.
O'Mahony, G. Barry
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This research makes an important contribution by offering recommendations for sustainable water management farming approaches. Businesses, both national and multinational, are coming under increasing scrutiny with regard to social responsibility and their compliance in adopting practices that promote social and environmental well-being. Effective water management and the supply of fresh drinking water is a critical concern, which often conflicts with water supply for industrial or commercial purposes. The practices adopted frequently determine levels of environmental degradation, as well as associated social and health risks. As illustration, farming is one of the largest commercial consumers of water and the irrigation methods used have considerable impact in terms of erosion, pollution and water resource depletion. However, adopting more sustainable farming practises often means breaking with tradition and learning new approaches. This study therefore investigates the barriers to farmers adopting drip irrigation in Australia. Drip is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally sustainable irrigation approaches and Australia faces among the most extreme water stress environments. The research involves in-depth interviews with various water management stakeholders, including 146 farmers, regarding the perceived barriers to the uptake of drip irrigation. Our findings show that farmers most commonly reject drip irrigation for reasons relating to perceived costs and suitability, as well as installation and maintenance challenges. The influence of government policies towards promoting and supporting particular irrigation methods should also not be under estimated. Such understanding should facilitate the development of effective education and communication programs to improve the uptake of drip.