Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drought and irrigators

Following a mention of irrigation on another blog, let me explain why Wyangala Dam, with its capable capacity of three times Sydney Harbour, was down to a mere 4.5% of its capacity before the recent rains came.

One thing is the drought and this must be taken as a serious reason. This country is subject to periodic droughts. In my 69 years I have seen three serious drought periods and floods in-between those droughts - it is to a degree, cyclical.

In an article to land-owners last week in a country magazine the author took farmers to task for "having forgotten how to drive a 4WD in wet conditions, how to stay off the low areas and to drive across the slopes on the high sides and to deflate tyre pressures to ensure maximum traction adherance."  He also mentioned those younger farmers, those under 25 years of age, who have never farmed in wet conditions - they grew up in dry times and just seemed to assume that this was the way things were and rain would not change things.

Sheep being fed silage fodder off the back of a truck in a barren paddock.

Another reason is the irrigators - especially irrigators for crops that we should not even be trying to grow, such as cotton and citrus fruits.

Irrigating cotton crops.

Its hard to find re-produceable images of citrus crop irrigation - seems that the various state agricultural bureaus are sensitive about it.

Farmers in the Ord region are preparing to harvest Western Australia's first commercial rice crop in more than 27 years.

Crops like rice, cotton, citrus can all be imported cheaper than we can grow them and their nett value of being home-grown to our economy is about one tenth the value of dairy farming and cattle grazing.

Our country is an old country. It has a very fragile geography and only a few centimetres of arable topsoil. Intensive farming is simply crazy when we have to add huge anounts of phosphate fertilisers that (eventually) leachate into our waterways and river systems and cause massive algal blooms resulting in loss of water quality and sickness.

One of these days we will get smart and cease growing crops and grazing herds in areas never intended for them, or, really capable of supporting a viable agricultural or grazing industry and look to importing our food needs from 'food bowl' countries who can benefit from our technological and scientific 'know-how' and our exports of our vast reserves of raw minerals.


John Gray said...

your photos look like something from A TOWN LIKE ALICE!

John said...

Narh! 'The Alice' can be a whole lot rougher! LOL!

Gill - That British Woman said...

excellent, thanks for filling me in and giving me the correct name for the watering the crops "thingy!!"

We grow a lot of potatoes in our area.

Gill in Canada