More than 300 projects were registered during the Farm Water Program's recent Round 3 Registration of Interest call.
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Chief Executive Officer Chris Norman said the volume of calls taken during the six-week registration period indicated there was strong demand by Northern Victorian producers for funding to upgrade their on-farm irrigation infrastructure.
"Through Rounds 1 and 2 of the Farm Water Program we have already funded almost 400 projects, worth more than $100 million, which will save a total of 52 gigalitres of water," Mr Norman said.
"This most recent call makes it very clear that there is a huge amount of interest among farmers to improve their on-farm irrigation practices and modernise their farm irrigation systems."
Water savings achieved through the on-farm upgrades are shared between farmers and the environment, with at least half the water savings transferred to the Commonwealth environmental water holder.
"The program is clearly a win for the environment, irrigators and the community," Mr Norman said.
"It complements the modernisation of the irrigation delivery system; the water savings are returned to the environment to boost river health and water quality; and it creates jobs and attracts investment to this region."
Mr Norman said most projects registered during the Round 3 call included a mix of technologies, including laser grading, drainage reuse, micro-drip and sprinkler systems, automation and irrigation scheduling.
"There was particularly strong interest from irrigators during this registration call for funding to install pipe and risers (130 projects) as well as for gravity channel upgrades (124 projects)," he said
Almost a quarter of the projects registered are in the Murray Valley Water Service Area, with the rest fairly evenly spread across the Central Goulburn, Torrumbarry, Rochester, Shepparton, and Loddon Valley WSAs. A small number of private diverters also registered with the program (23 projects).
Mr Norman said the Farm Water Program expected to hear if its application to the Australian Government for funding from Round 3 of the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program was successful shortly.
In the meantime, Farm Water Program staff members are checking the projects' eligibility against the funding criteria (including G-MW connections).
Irrigators who successfully registered their projects will have received an acknowledgement letter and will be contacted by DPI or CMA staff to develop more information on their project.