Hills’ Orchardists Water Resource Management Forum

The project was a partnership between the Hills Orchard Improvement group (HOIG) Perth NRM and a range of stakeholders who have a professional interest in water use and water use efficiencies. This partnership approach enabled ground water users (orchardists) in the Perth Hills regions to better understand through the benchmarking activity, how much water they use in comparison to other producers in the region and where this sat with industry best practices. This information was the basis for running an industry forum that had significant and invaluable input from a range of stakeholders.

At the forum, the first of the stakeholder presentations was the Bureau of Meteorology who provided participants with the latest information on current regional climate trends with predictions for the short to medium term future and how this impacts on rainfall and infiltration of rainfall into groundwater reserves. The second presentation was provided by the agronomist who conducted the benchmarking activity. This presentation stimulated a lot of conversation around one of the key finding of the benchmarking activity which was the wide range in water use and irrigation management strategies for the similar crops.

This presentation was followed by the guest speaker (Marcel Veems) who is one the most highly regarded agronomists in Australia for orchard production. Marcel provided an insightful presentation on; Optimising water use and adapting to a drying climate with the latest information on netting, alternative rootstocks, irrigation technology.

The final presentation was by state governments, Department of WA who provided the 77 participants with a summary of the water allocation process and the processes for managing conflict in allocation and water use. After the presentations there was a facilitated Q & A session where the participants took the opportunity to ask the presenters a range of additional questions. Another of these forums will be held in the West Midlands area, it will be region specific and highlight some of the issues they have in regards to water management.