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Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2369; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122369

Forage Options for Dairy Farms with Reduced Water Availability in the Southern Murray Darling Basin of Australia

Agriculture Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources, Private Bag, 255 Ferguson Rd., Tatura, VIC 3616, Australia
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Received: 26 October 2017 / Revised: 1 December 2017 / Accepted: 12 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
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Abstract

The dairy industry in the southern Murray Darling Basin region of Australia is a major consumer of irrigation water because rainfall is low relative to evapotranspiration and the industrys relies heavily on irrigated temperate pastures and fodder crops. Water reforms, and potential climate change scenarios for this region suggest that there will be an overall decline in rainfall and water available for irrigation in the future. For the irrigated dairy industry to remain economically viable, there is a need for dairy farmers to improve the water productivity (WP) of their forage systems and to be able to respond to year-to-year, and within year, variation in water availability. Researchers and dairy farmers are evaluating strategies to increase WP. These include: (i) selecting better-adapted species for current and predicted climatic conditions; (ii) using species that can survive and still be productive under reduced irrigation and then recover when full irrigation is restored; (iii) modifying irrigation strategies to reduce water use whilst maintaining WP; and (iv) grazing management strategies that facilitate the survival during, and recovery after, periods of moisture stress. This review will examine these strategies and discusses their potential to optimise forage production from irrigation water inputs so that the dairy industry in the southern Murray Darling Basin remains viable in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy production; deficit irrigation; irrigated pastures; water productivity; water use dairy production; deficit irrigation; irrigated pastures; water productivity; water use
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Rogers, M.-J.; Lawson, A.; Kelly, K. Forage Options for Dairy Farms with Reduced Water Availability in the Southern Murray Darling Basin of Australia. Sustainability 2017, 9, 2369.

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