CSIRO want irrigators to share drought tips for new study

CSIRO want irrigators to share drought tips for new study

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"Drought pushes people to do things they may not have done in the past and think differently about decisions."

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THE CSIRO is looking to interview irrigators from across the nation, to find out what strategies and business decisions get them through drought.

Researchers are interested in what they can learn about innovation in the industry, which they may be able to share across the wider agricultural sector.

The study is part of CSIRO's mission to improve agriculture's drought resilience, which it announced at the end of last year.

In the Millennium Drought, water allocations dropped by two-thirds, but incomes for irrigators only dropped 20 per cent.

CSRIO senior research scientist Rose Brodrick said the picture for what made irrigated crops successful in times of drought was an under-explored area of research.

"Drought pushes people to do things they may not have done in the past and think differently about decisions," Dr Brodrick said.

"We know farmers do innovative things in drought. We want to get a detailed understanding of what kind of decisions they're making, what works and doesn't work, and what technologies they might have used."

The researchers will look to implement the findings of the study before the next widespread drought hits Australia.

"If we can reach irrigators and share their learnings with the wider industry, it'll be a huge benefit to us all," Dr Brodrick said.

"There might be something that works in one area that would be successful in another - there could be cotton farmers in NSW that are doing something that might work for an apple farmer in Tasmania."

Irrigators who take part in the study will only be required to do an hour-long interview. Researchers are looking for irrigators from "outside the normal networks" and are hoping to get a cross section from different geographical and commodity backgrounds.

"Everyone is on our radar from small to large businesses, and those who grow different crops such as pastures, broad acre, perennial and annual horticulture crops," Dr Brodrick said.

The study is also an opportunity for irrigators to identify research priorities, by flagging the big challenges within the sector.

"When we share this with the broader community, there might be someone from outside of the normal ag innovation system who has a solution," Dr Brodrick said.

Irrigators looking to get involved can email rose.brodrick@csiro.au.

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