Farms can prosper with limited water if irrigation is managed to ensure productivity, efficiency and sustainability. Our Certificate of Irrigation Management is ideal for farmers, irrigation managers, irrigation consultants and irrigation equipment suppliers and will teach you how to manage the design and operation of large-scale irrigation systems.
In this irrigation course, you will learn how to devise ways to schedule irrigation for large-scale operations, optimise water efficiency, manage the maintenance of irrigation systems, and formulate operation irrigation controllers for appropriate tasks.
You will also gain insights into the fertigation of plants through an irrigation system and evaluate the design of drainage and an extensive irrigation system.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking an irrigation course include:
- Learning about water management, humans and water, water and plant growth and how to maximise plant requirements
- Exploring xeriscaping, waste wastage, evaporation and seeping and runoff and overspray
- Gaining an understanding of recycling wastewater and wastewater treatment (reed beds)
- Exploring regulated deficit irrigation, vine irrigation and efficient orchard irrigation
- Gaining an understanding of drainage, surface drainage, subsurface drainage, the types of drains and rainfall
- Studying the layout of drains, the distance between drainage pipes and grid, outlet and herringbone drains
- Examining the depth of drains, laying drains and improving permeability during construction
- Understanding cultivation, adding soil ameliorants and chemical treatments
- Attaining knowledge of how to improve surface draining after construction, contingencies to deal with floods and sand slitting, aerating and subsoiling
- Gaining insights into irrigation controllers, automatic controllers and computerised tap controllers
- Learning about manual controllers, battery-powered solenoid valves, water volumes and duration and mechanical tap timers
- Exploring electronic tap timers, residential controllers and rain dial controllers
- Gaining an understanding of pumps, pressure systems and shallow well pumps
- Studying pumping mechanisms, centrifugal pumps and when a centrifugal pump fails to operate
- Attaining knowledge of alkalinity, physical and chemical impurities and temporary and permanent hardness
- Gaining insights into corrosion, salinity, tastes, odours, biological impurities and algae
- Learning about microorganisms, bacteriological impurities, treatments and remedies and the improvement of water quality from any source
- Exploring fertigation, the advantages and disadvantages and the types
- Gaining an understanding of proportional, quantitative, continuous and three-stage applications
- Studying fertiliser injectors, pump injectors and electric and piston-activated pumps
- Examining diaphragm-activated pumps, pressure differential injectors, suction injectors, fertiliser applications and plant nursery fertiliser injection techniques
- Understanding system design evaluation, design considerations and water availability
- Attaining knowledge of regulations, site details, source and quality of water and finances and labour requirements
- Gaining insights into flood/surface irrigation, furrow irrigation, border check systems and hillside flooding
- Learning about sprinkler irrigation, wind velocity and wetting patterns, trickle irrigation and microjet irrigation
- Studying how to consult the local council on relevant by-laws and how to study the environment of the locality
- Examining the resources available to do the job, client or owner preferences and priorities and types of systems
- Understanding underground pipes and drainage
Early Irrigation Development in Australia
If you are interested in undertaking an irrigation course, it is worth knowing some of the history of major irrigation systems in Australia as they provide some invaluable insights.
The formative years of irrigation in Australia were in the 19th century and the major irrigation developments initially occurred in the Murray-Darling Basin region. Most of the early information flow to Australia from other countries was channelled through Victoria and the most significant events associated with the emergence of irrigation in Australia predominantly resulted from these efforts. Water allocation systems, irrigation design concept and administration machinery then spread into the other Australian colonies.
The early emphasis was on engineering technology, and advice was initially received from British engineers, who at this time was seen as the forefront of irrigation initiatives. Subsequently, Australian engineers such as McKinley and Home in NSW, Culceth, Derry and Gordon in Victoria, and Hugh Cotton and Arthur Cotton in Tasmania became leading figures during the formative stages.
Early Private Irrigation Schemes
The first instances of irrigation in Australia were in the form of initiatives by private individuals aimed at increasing farm production. In 1830, records show the first essays in irrigation, which were implemented by Governor Arthur. The scheme involved the reclamation of marshland along the Derwent Estuary and used tidal fluctuations to irrigate the land via a series of sluices.
In around 1885, a rudimentary dam was constructed in the Clyde River which permitted irrigation of the property “Raths”. This property has the longest continuous record of irrigation in Australia. Other schemes for irrigation commenced in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The first major diversion structure built for irrigation was the Goulburn Weir which was constructed from 1887 to 1891.
A major drought in Victoria from 1877 to 1884 prompted the chairman of a Royal Commission on water supply, Alfred Deakin, to visit the irrigation areas of California. There he met Canadians William and George Chaffey. In 1886, the Chaffey brothers visited Australia and selected a derelict sheep station covering 1,000 km2 at Mildura as the site for their first irrigation settlement. They were also invited by the Premier of South Australia, John Downer, to commence a settlement at Renmark in South Australia in 1887.
In 1900, irrigation in the Murrumbidgee Valley began with the irrigation experiments of agricultural pioneer, Samuel McCaughey. This private scheme involved the construction of around 320 kilometres of channels to irrigate about 162 square kilometres of land. His success appears to have encouraged the New South Wales government to commence large scale irrigation.
Commonwealth Government Resources
Prior to the federation in 1901, each Australian Colony managed its own water resources. The first major instance of Commonwealth involvement in irrigation was through participation in the River Murray Waters Agreement. This was ratified in 1915 by the parliaments of the Australian Government, and the states of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. The agreement provided for the creation of the River Murray Commission to manage the operation of works and the distribution of waters to each state.
In 1910, the Dethridge Wheel was invented by John Dethridge who was then the commissioner of the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. The wheel consisted of a drum around an axle with four spokes originating from each end of the axle. Eight v-shaped vanes were fixed to the outside of the drum which then would spin. This revolving wheel measured the flow of water from the irrigation supply channels into the farm channels and provided the basis upon which irrigation farmers were charged for water.
In 1907, the Victorian government invited American Elwood Mead to become chairman of the newly formed State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria. The Water Act of 1909 was passed despite the fierce opposition of large landowners.
In Western Australia, the state’s first controlled irrigation scheme, the Harvey Irrigation Scheme, was officially started in 1916. It was further developed during the latter part of the 1930s Depression, employing workers to dig and build the extensive irrigation channels in the district.
Another one of the major irrigation projects that offers interesting insights into those doing an irrigation course is the Snowy Mountain Scheme. Since the 1830s, both the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers have been subject to development and control to meet irrigation and water supply needs. Conversely, the Snowy River had never been controlled in any way either for irrigation or the production of power.
A great proportion of its waters flowed into the sea and it has the highest source of any in Australia and was considered a means for developing hydro-electric power, supplementing the flow of the great inland rivers and increasing agricultural production in the Murrumbidgee and Murray Valleys.
Following World War II, the Government of New South Wales proposed that the flow of the Snowy River be diverted into the Murrumbidgee River for agricultural and irrigation purposes.
The Commonwealth Government, looking at the national implications of the proposals, initiated a meeting to discuss the use of the waters of the Snowy River. In 1946, the Commonwealth Government set up a committee to examine the question on the broadest possible basis. In a report submitted in November 1948, it suggested consideration of a far greater scheme than any previously put forward.
However, limitations in the Australian Constitution meant that the Commonwealth Government was limited in the powers it could exercise without the agreement of the states. Subsequently, it introduced legislation into the Federal Parliament and enacted the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act 1949 that enabled the formation of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. Ten years later, the relevant states and territories introduced their own corresponding legislation, and in January 1959, the Snowy Mountains Agreement was reached between the commonwealth and the states. Construction of the Snowy Scheme officially began in October 1949 and took 25 years to build, being officially completed in 1974. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme is one of the most complex integrated water and hydro-electric power schemes in the world and is listed as a “world-class civil engineering project” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Gain the skills and knowledge necessary to manage and design an extensive irrigation system with an irrigation course such as our Certificate of Irrigation Management.