Do Irrigation Systems in New Zealand Save Water?

Irrigation systems are becoming more and more popular in New Zealand. Since 1970 the area of irrigated farmland has doubled every 12 years according to government statistics. A range of irrigation systems are used and collectively they irrigate about 5% of all tilled agricultural land, with maximum efficiency of irrigation in terms of production and profits.

Key to the efficiency of irrigation systems in New Zealand is irrigation system design. New Zealand is a diverse land so the type of irrigation system used in cities like Auckland or regional areas such as Canterbury can be quite different due to the geographic location and climate of each island. In New Zealand, one approach does not necessarily suit all, so the most efficient irrigation systems are designed in a way that meets the regional demands, balancing water scarcity, rainfall fluctuations and production outcomes. Irrigation system design is driven by improving efficiency in all areas with productivity and profits traditionally leading the way.

However, with increasing fluctuations in rainfall and water scarcity, in recent years there has been a shift towards designing more sustainable irrigation systems in New Zealand. As all production hinges around the precious resource of water, it makes perfect sense to protect this commodity, ensuring positive outcomes into the future for both productivity and the environment. Maximising the effectiveness of every drop of water by adopting targeted watering with shorter water windows begins to achieve this.

Other irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and micro drip irrigation address the need to reduce runoff and evaporation. Drip and micro drip irrigation systems in New Zealand have been integrated into greenhouses and fields, providing maximum production per litre of water used. Rainwater harvesting systems and recycling of water help to further reduce the depletion of our natural water resources.

Regional regulations also aim to protect the depletion of our natural waterways. In household settings, this may include the inclusion of timers and drippers while in agricultural settings this may include limits on the amount of water that can be pumped out of natural waterways. From 2022 water permit holders in New Zealand must have telemetry devices to meter water usage installed and further restrictions apply around draining wetlands and waterways All this has required a bit of a mind-shift as consumers have had the luxury of unrestricted water use for decades. Gradually, this mind-shift is changing with domestic and commercial water usage now moving even further towards sustainable irrigation practices as consumers realise the importance of protecting our waterways and water table.

Our irrigation experts and designers at Think Water are sensitive to the need to balance sustainable irrigation systems with the need to maximise efficiency. Irrigation systems in New Zealand do in fact save water both in domestic and commercial settings and it is important that we maximise the technology in irrigation systems to make further advances in water management and sustainability.

To discover how you can save water on your property and embrace sustainable irrigation solutions without sacrificing productivity, talk to one of our experts at your nearest Think Water Store.