The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is implementing a project – Sustainable Agribusiness Opportunities from the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline (SAOW) – funded through the Provincial Victoria Growth Fund, Regional Development Victoria (RDV) which aims to assist Wimmera Mallee farmers to maximise the opportunities that can be derived from this major change in water supply. As part of this project, the Water in Drylands Collaborative Research Program (WIDCORP) was commissioned by DPI to undertake research that provides insight into how farmers might react to such changes and what expectations they may have for their farming enterprises. This research informs DPI in developing a targeted and insightful approach to extension programs to assist farmers and farming groups connecting to the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline (WMP). The study involved an extensive literature review of socio-economic benefits of pipeline infrastructure and a multimode survey (telephone and online) of Wimmera Mallee farmers (n=527) to establish farmer typologies using farming style theory. Follow-up semi-structured interviews (n=16) were conducted with representative farmers from each of the defined ‘farming styles’. These interviews contextualised the characteristics of the styles, explored the implications for farm innovations and perceived opportunities, and identified key barriers and drivers influencing the uptake of innovation as a consequence of the WMP.
This document presents a summary of the findings of a significant research project examining the implications of a more secure stock and domestic water supply system for a large dryland agricultural region. It identifies key issues, concerns and opportunities as perceived by farmers of various farmer typologies. It explores innovation, and the drivers and barriers to the adoption of new farming practices. The research was commissioned by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) as part of the Sustainable Agribusiness Opportunities from the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline (SAOW) initiative. This research will inform DPI in developing a targeted and insightful approach to extension programs to assist farmers and farming groups connecting to the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline (WMP). More background information and detailed findings can be found in the full report located on the WIDCORP website (www.widcorp.com). The Wimmera Mallee Water Supply system historically delivered stock and domestic water across the dryland Wimmera Mallee region of Victoria via open earthen channels from storages in the Grampians to farms and town storages across the region (van Veldhuisen, 2001). Whilst this system was critical for the development of agriculture and communities within the region, wastage of approximately 103,000ML of water through evaporation and seepage across this system was no longer sustainable (GWMWater, 2003). In response to this situation, construction of the WMP Project commenced in late 2006, led by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater) with funding from the community, state and federal governments. This major infrastructure project will replace the delivery of open channel water to the Wimmera Mallee farms and towns with a pipeline supply from headworks in the Grampians