$100 million program to install new or upgrade existing irrigation infrastructure or technology.
What does it offer?
The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program is a competitive grants program funding projects that generate water savings by improving the efficiency and productivity of on-farm irrigation water use and management.
Who is it for?
The program will provide funding to delivery partners who are responsible for managing and implementing proponent’s sub-projects.
Delivery partners must be eligible organisations that have close relationships with irrigator communities in the Southern Connected System of the Murray-Darling Basin. These organisations will act as project managers for the Australian Government.
Delivery partners will have a critical role in designing and managing an overall delivery partner project that brings together a number of proponent sub-projects designed to improve on-farm irrigation efficiency and transfer of a share of the water savings generated through these proponent sub-projects to the Australian Government.
What funding is available?
Subject to funding allocated to this Round of the program, there is no maximum or minimum funding limit for overall delivery partner projects, sub-project types or individual proponent sub-projects.
Who can apply?
An eligible delivery partner applicant under the program must:
- be an entity with direct and demonstrable links to irrigators such as, but not limited to:
- an Irrigation Infrastructure Operator
- a Catchment Management Authority
- a commodity or agricultural industry group
- a regional irrigation body
- be able to demonstrate it has the authority under organisational governance arrangements to be the lead proponent who is responsible for the delivery partner project and is able to enter into contractual arrangements with others (e.g. project participants and proponents) to implement the project
- be financially viable as demonstrated through the provision of audited financial statements and related documents
- be a legal entity capable of entering into a Funding Agreement, for the term of the Agreement, with the Australian Government (note: unincorporated associations are not eligible)
- be registered with the Australian Taxation Office for Goods and Services Tax purposes with a valid Australian Business Number (ABN)
- agree to take all reasonable measures to ensure that permanent water entitlements offered to the Australian Government are unencumbered and are available to be transferred within the specified timeframe after a Funding Agreement is signed
- be seeking funding for proponent sub-projects located only within the Southern Connected System of the Murray-Darling Basin
Who cannot apply?
Individual irrigators, state governments, local government bodies, and organisations which directly supply or install irrigation equipment cannot apply directly for funding. Individual irrigator sub-projects are funded via delivery partners.
Individual irrigators are advised to contact an organisation who is an eligible delivery partner if they would like to propose an irrigation infrastructure project on their farm.
Activities eligible for funding
Activities eligible for project/ sub-project funding generating water savings for the Australian Government will be infrastructure based, occur on an existing irrigated farm, and may include the following:
- installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure or technology, including automated water management systems and sensing equipment intended to improve decision-making about irrigation and which will improve irrigation efficiency
- improving irrigated area layout or design for the purpose of improving on-farm irrigation efficiency (e.g. laser grading, decommissioning old irrigation infrastructure as part of enhancing the overall efficiency of the system)
- ancillary equipment necessary for new or upgraded irrigation systems to function (e.g. computer equipment)
- training, where this is important to the success of the project. However, training on how to use new irrigation infrastructure equipment should normally be provided by the supplier as part of the installation costs.
Program funding will be directed to irrigation applied to primary production. This includes irrigated crops, pasture for stock (e.g. dairy) and commercial horticulture.
Activities NOT eligible for funding
Activities that are ineligible for project/ sub-project funding include, but are not limited to, activities that acquire water savings generated by the following:
- research and development projects
- upgrading existing or installing new irrigation systems for urban or industrial land uses
- projects generating improved irrigation efficiency and savings from application of different management approaches such as crop rotation or use of new plant types requiring less water
- projects converting irrigated land to dryland agriculture (this does not include within farms where it is consistent with a whole farm plan or similar document and the total irrigated area is not increased)
- projects where the total irrigated area footprint is increased as a result of the project activity
- projects where the total water use is increased as a result of the project activity
- on-going labour and maintenance costs associated with operating new or existing infrastructure
- projects that have been completed or have already commenced (i.e. program funding will not be provided to cover expenditure already incurred or committed by a delivery partner or other project participant)
- projects seeking to establish irrigation on farms not previously irrigated or new irrigation districts
- planning activities and costs associated with development by proponents of on-farm water efficiency plans, whole farm plans, or similar documents
Merit criteria for applications
During the stage one assessment, applications will be assessed on the basis of the information provided by the delivery partner against the following criteria: economic, social, environmental, technical, value for money and governance. All projects must meet minimum thresholds under each of the merit criteria to be eligible for funding. Projects meeting the minimum thresholds will be ranked using the criteria outlined in these guidelines.
Economic and social criteria
Delivery partner projects must:
- contribute towards regional investment and development. This would include, for example, contributions to regional income, production and employment as well as business viability
- include district-level capacity building activities, such as field days, training, demonstration activities and case studies to encourage uptake and effective use of water-efficient practices and technologies
Delivery partner projects must:
- deliver substantial and lasting returns of water to the environment to secure real improvements in river health as demonstrated through water savings transferred to the Australian Government
- demonstrate strategies to minimise adverse environmental impacts from project activities during the development and as a result of the improvements
- validate calculations of total water savings, and projections should take into account the impacts of climate change (for example, the CSIRO Sustainable Yields research found at
- deliver water in the form of secure and transferable unencumbered water entitlements to the Australian Government. Priority will be given to regulated surface water entitlements. The agreed water entitlements to be transferred to the Australian Government in return for funding must be capable of being used for purposes that support the Australian Government’s environmental priorities mentioned on page 5.
Delivery partners must:
- be able to provide evidence that each sub-project is technically feasible and the engineering solutions are appropriate to the needs of the irrigation system and the sub-project site and that the estimated water savings are deliverable. Sub-projects will be assessed to determine:
- the suitability of the proposed irrigation infrastructure for the farm site, crop type and soil type
- whether the nominated cost of the proposed sub-project is within the expected range for that type of infrastructure and scale of installation
- whether the water savings arising from the proposed infrastructure improvements are within the expected range for that type of irrigation infrastructure, subject to any known external factors that might affect performance
- validate that the sub-projects have been reviewed by a competent irrigation professional. (Delivery partner projects engaging certified irrigation professionals will be more highly regarded)
Value for money criteria
Delivery partner projects must deliver ‘value for money’ in the context of economic, social, environmental and technical criteria.
The estimate of water savings to be provided by the proponent sub-projects and the total proposed cost of the proponent sub-projects is important. The delivery partner should estimate the total water savings to be achieved by the delivery partner projects and describe the process used to estimate those savings. The overall volume and security type(s) of water entitlement to be transferred to the Australian Government in return for funding must also be identified.
All relevant information in the application will be used to assess the value for money the project may deliver. This will include an analysis of the overall cost per megalitre of the estimated water savings against the relevant regional market price for permanent water purchases. This analysis will take into account:
- the total volume of water savings likely to be offered in terms of the total investment in the project required to produce those savings
- the volume and security type of water savings to be transferred to the Australian Government in terms of the Australian Government investment in the project
- any cash or in-kind co-contributions
When a project receives in-principle approval, the
‘value for money’ demonstrated at the stage one application must be maintained in the stage two application. Projects that do not maintain ‘value for money’ through both stage one and stage two may not proceed to a Funding Agreement.
Delivery partners must be capable of:
- successfully managing large, complex natural resource management projects
- engaging with proponents to achieve agreed outcomes
- demonstrating a sound understanding of best practice project management
- fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of a delivery partner outlined in these guidelines
- engaging with the Australian Government to achieve agreed outcomes
Contact us to see how we can assist your application.
The closing time for funding applications will be 4.00 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) Thursday 26 July 2012.
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No responsibility is taken for the accuracy of the information presented above. Potential applicants should view source websites for the lastest program information.