Stuart Pettigrew originally came from the Riverland. Stuart has a commercial interest in making sure the rivers are healthy because it means that he can continue his production on the farm. Plus, he has a personal reason: he loves the river!
The orchard at Golden Heights is around 10 acres of new citrus orchard. Water saved from Stuart’s project is being used to restore the Murray–Darling Basin.
Rather than install a traditional overhead irrigation system, Stuart chose mini sprinklers that give reasonably large coverage across the whole orchard floor. He also installed a fertiliser and filtration system that is powered by a solar panel. Stuart’s project was funded by the Australian Government.
Stuart achieved a higher production yield per megalitre of water through water efficiency measures. This is also the key motivator for a lot of growers through the Murray–Darling Basin.
The benchmark in areas like this used to be 20 to 25 tonnes per hectare of marketable fruit. Now, we’re aiming for 45 to 50 tonne of fruit per hectare.
Additionally, stewardship of the river goes hand in hand with sustainable agriculture. Stuart is seeing areas that were abandoned five years ago now coming back into production: that’s got to be good for rural communities like this one.
Well-targeted, well-managed programs to raise efficiency certainly should be encouraged throughout the whole Murray–Darling Basin. Stuart’s project saved 12 megalitres of water, helping to restore our river system.