SMART Irrigation launched

Irrigation New Zealand has launched a framework called SMART Irrigation to ensure that future irrigation in New Zealand is implemented and managed sustainably.

The SMART (Sustainably Managed, Accountable, Responsible and Trusted) framework provides three simple steps for irrigators to better manage their environmental footprint.

(1) Design future irrigation systems to industry standards and codes of practice

(2) Annually check the irrigation system is performing as it should

(3) Justify the reason for applying irrigation.

Central to all the above is record keeping – providing evidence the three simple steps are being achieved.

Irrigation New Zealand CEO Andrew Curtis says the SMART framework will help irrigators meet the public’s expectations around environmental responsibility, and will provide assurance to the public that irrigating farmers are using water efficiently and with care.

“The SMART framework is about providing a benchmark for sustainable irrigation, and is a way for irrigators to share with the community how they irrigate. It’s about being transparent.”

The programme focuses on efficient water use and regular auditing and technological improvements. This is to be supported by ever evolving education and training resources and accreditation programmes all provided by Irrigation New Zealand.

The SMART Irrigation website (www.smartirrigation.co.nz) also launched today, compliments the SMART Irrigation framework. It provides information to the public about how irrigation in New Zealand works: why, how and where irrigation takes place; why it is beneficial; what regulations and policies oversee it; more details on the SMART framework and examples of SMART Irrigators that will be added to monthly.

“We have done nationwide polling to understand what the public thinks of irrigation – two responses were overwhelming in their majority: that New Zealanders (71%) are pro-sustainable irrigation and that the public needs more information about irrigation. The SMART Irrigation website and framework responds to this.”

The website answers several questions:

What is irrigation?

What is SMART irrigation?

Why is it good for New Zealand?

Who’s doing it well?

The last one includes NOIC – the North Otago Irrigation Company which was the first irrigation company to:

  • Introduce the Audited Farm Environment Plan system
  • Have a full time environmental manager on staff
  • Actively supports other irrigation schemes, providing advice on how to develop robust management systems
  • Won Irrigation New Zealand’s Innovation in Irrigation Award’ 2012 for their Farm Environment Plan programme

SMART Irrigation is a smart initiative.

Irrigation done well has intergenerational economic, environmental and social benefits.

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