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New look 2012 Mallee Horticulture Crop Report now available

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), in conjunction with SunRISE 21, is proud to release the 2012 Murray Mallee Horticulture Crop Report.

New look 2012 Mallee Horticulture Crop Report now available

Mallee CMA Board Chairperson Sharyon Peart and SunRISE 21 Board Chairman Ross Lake with the 2012 Mallee Horticulture Crop Report.

The report captures the dynamics of irrigated horticulture in the Victorian Murray Mallee and this year, is bigger and better than ever with more detail on crop types.

First commencing in 1997, the 2012 report is the latest in the series of triennial crop reports providing an extensive database on crop types and irrigation methods in the Murray Mallee region.

For this report, extra effort was directed at improving the accuracy of the underlying spatial database, with contributions from participants of the Mallee Flood Recovery Environmental Employment (FREE) Program who used their local knowledge to assist to ground truth the report data.

Mallee CMA Board Chairperson Sharyon Peart said the report is an important planning tool
regarding irrigation within the Murray Mallee region.

“The region has witnessed a huge change in irrigation over the past 15 years. Since 1997, the total irrigable area has increased by 32,225 ha, with the total area irrigated increasing by 19,960 ha,” she said.

“This expansion has occurred with environmental sustainability considerations at the fore being guided by the region’s salinity management plans and resulting in over 78% of the expansion occurring in the lowest salinity impact zone,” she said.

The report also demonstrates how the region is continuing to adopt highly efficient irrigation methods. In 1997, drip irrigation accounted for 11% of the total irrigated area and by 2012 this had increased to 66%. This in turn, saw a dramatic reduction in the less efficient forms of irrigation during the same period.

In breaking down the diversity of crop types in the Mallee, the report found that grapes remain the dominant crop type, covering 20,845 ha. Over the past three years, table grapes have become the dominate crop within the pumped irrigation districts, replacing wine grapes.

The area under wine grapes peaked in 2006 with 15,550 ha and has since declined to 11,405 ha, representing a decline of some 27% from the peak.

Almonds follow closely behind grapes with 20,305 ha and the region is set to become Australia’s largest almond producer when current plantings reach maturity. Other important regional crops include citrus, olives, carrots and potatoes.

The rate of decline in the area under dried vine fruits has now steadied and over the past three years, the area under dried vine fruits had declined by only 40 ha.

Importantly for the region, the report shows the commencement of a return to irrigation for those areas that were dried off during the period of drought and low water allocations.

For the pumped irrigation districts of Robinvale, Red Cliffs, Mildura and Merbein, the total area dried off from irrigation peaked in 2010 with 5,161 ha dried off and has since declined to 4,926 ha in 2011 and 4,565 ha in 2012.

Further information on the 2012 Mallee Horticulture Crop Report is available from the Coordinator Regional Sustainability Peter Middleton at the Mallee CMA on 5051 4377.

A copy of the report is available here

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