Groundwater and Agriculture

Oranje Creativeres-page3, Research Capabilities

Groundwater supplies almost one third of all water used for irrigation in Australia, but increasing future demand and climate change are likely to put groundwater systems under increasing pressure.

NCGRT researchers have expertise in estimation of sustainable yields of groundwater systems and estimating recharge beneath both dryland and irrigated agriculture. We are working with industry to examine the potential for improved water management, and to quantify and mitigate risks of groundwater contamination from agricultural developments, including nitrate contamination and land and river salinisation. NCGRT researchers have also been at the forefront of projects in the Murray Basin to study the effect of irrigation adjacent to the Murray River on river salinity, and examining the potential for irrigation developments in central Australia to lead to salinisation of underlying groundwater resources.

We have also been undertaking studies in NSW, Queensland and Victoria to evaluate the potential of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) in agriculture catchments to provide additional water supplies and take pressure of stressed groundwater systems.

Selected Publications

Rochford LM, Bulovic N, Ordens CM, and McIntyre N (2023) What makes them pump? Factors influencing groundwater extraction for cattle grazing in a semi-arid region. Agricultural Water Management, 279, 108158.

Zhang J, Werner AD, and Lu C (2022) Improving salt leaching efficiency of subsurface drainage systems using low-permeability surface mulch. Advances in Water Resources, 162, 104147.

Rochford LM, Ordens CM, Bulovic N, and McIntyre N (2022) Voluntary metering of rural groundwater extractions: understanding and resolving the challenges. Hydrogeology Journal, 30, 2251-2266.

Scheiber L, Cendón DI, Iverach CP, Hankin SI, Vázquez-Suñé E, and Kelly BFJ (2020) Hydrochemical apportioning of irrigation groundwater sources in an alluvial aquifer. Science of the Total Environment, 733, 140506.

Keir G, Bulovic N, and McIntyre N (2019) Stochastic modelling of groundwater extractions over a data-sparse region of Australia. Groundwater, 57, 97-109.