Stuart Pettigrew originally came from up through the Riverland. Stuart has a commercial interest in making sure the rivers are healthy, because it means he can continue his production on the farm. But also for personal reasons, he loves the river, as many growers do in this area.
The orchard at Golden Heights is around about 10 acres of new citrus orchard. Water saved from Stuart’s project is being used to restore the Murray–Darling Basin.
Rather than install a traditional overhead irrigation system, Stuart chose mini sprinklers that give reasonably large coverage across the whole orchard floor.He also installed a fertiliser and filtration system running off a solar panel.Stuart’s project was funded by the Australian Government.
Stuart achieved a higher production yield per megalitre of water through water efficiency measures. That was the key motivator which is the same for a lot of growers through the Murray–Darling Basin.
The benchmark in areas like this used to be 20 to 25 tonnes per hectare of marketable fruit. Well, we’re aiming for 45 to 50 tonne of fruit per hectare.
In addition, stewardship of the river goes hand in hand with sustainable agriculture. Stuart is seeing areas that were abandoned five years ago now coming back into production, and that’s got to be good for rural communities like this one.