Padman Stops ‘Fast Watering’ Project: 2006-2008

Definition of fast watering: Surface Irrigation applied faster than 10 ML per day per HA.

In 2006, Padman Stops began their “Fast Watering” project, with the aim of creating a high efficiency irrigation system. The theory behind the system was that irrigating faster than the water can soak below the root zone would result in higher efficiency.

John Padman, with this in mind, built a pump with a flow meter that could be used in a trial to measure the effect of “Fast Watering”. Trials conducted have found that the faster the water, the less water is used. In one trial the application rate of the pump was found to be down to 0.3 mega-litres (30mm application) of water per hectare compared to 0.77 mega-litres (77mm application) per hectare for conventional irrigation.

In recent times, the irrigation industry has been overwhelmed by drought and water restrictions. The aim of the “Fast Watering” project is to reverse this trend.

The findings from three farms that were monitored during the irrigation season between August 2007-2008 are that “Fast Watering” has resulted in water savings of 180.92 mega-litres. This is the equivalent of approximately 72 Olympic sized swimming pools*.

* Calculation based on FINA approved Olympic size swimming pool of 2.5mL

Water Saving Advantages:

  • Additional water can be used to grow more feed or sell.
  • Reduced water logging, and soil degradation.
  • Increased plant growth, and reduce weed growth.
  • Minimize leaching of nutrients.
  • Low energy, green irrigation is more carbon efficient.

Keys that control infiltration rate.

  • Watering speed
  • Soil Condition
  • Plant Density
  • Soil Type
  • Length of Bay
  • Slope of Bay

What is the best application rate?

  • Suggested application rates vary from 30mm to 75mm. (0.3-0.75MLperHA.) In most cases 40mm to 50mm is sufficient
  • Smaller applications are suggested for watering up of seed such as Lucerne or cereals
  • Heavier applications are needed for deep rooted plants such as Lucerne
  • The Key to high efficiency irrigation is to apply the correct application for each situation
  • Infiltration rates will change with cultivation and crop density through the life of the layout
  • Installing larger stops today could cost as little as $40 extra
  • To upgrade later could cost you in excess of $500
  • Install the correct size stop for any future applications