Fruit grower push for new program

Thursday 2 November, 2017
A leading Goulburn Valley fruit grower has urged the Victorian Government to explore irrigation efficiency programs which do not involve water transfers.

Third generation Ardmona orchardist Rocky Varapodio said he believed enough water had left the region, mostly through the buy-back schemes designed to return water to the Commonwealth Government for environmental purposes.

But he was convinced there was still a need for a program to support farmers in modernising their irrigation systems.

“I think we still need to have some sort of incentive for people to use water properly,” Mr Varapodio said.

“It would be worth investigating a scheme that may be a little bit different to ones we’ve had in the past.

“It would be beneficial to our industry and primary production in general if no more water was to leave the region.”

 The fruit grower said he was always looking at methods to use less water in his large fruit growing operation.

“The use of water in tree crops is the big ticket item and that’s why the (fruit growing) industry is more innovative than other industries because it’s just so important to us to get that bit right,” he said.

 Mr Varapodio participated in two earlier rounds of the Farm Water Program, which required him to transfer an amount of his permanent water.

 “From my point of view it was a win-win. At the time it freed up capital to do other things on the orchard.”

 His involvement in the programs meant the business could install soil moisture monitoring equipment.

“The equipment measures the soil moisture at different depths and gives us a better understanding of the water the trees are using.

“It means no water is being wasted on trees that don’t require it.”