Plastic fantastic solution for Riverland irrigators

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By Ian Williams 

A big clean-up is about to start in the Riverland to clear vineyards and orchards of kilometres of discarded irrigation pipe.

Plastic pipes and dripper lines are an integral part of the irrigation infrastructure used to water thousands of hectares of farmland stretching across the region.

The problem is the piping only has a limited life and has to be replaced every few years.

But with no local recycling available most smaller irrigators, who make up the bulk of the industry, have little choice but to leave it on site or dump it in landfill.

Now government and industry have come together to broker a long awaited environmental solution.

Simon Jenner, a regional manager at Cleanaway, said it’s a first for the State’s waste sector.

“At this stage it’s still a pilot but we know there’s a big demand for such a service and so we are confident it will succeed,” said Simon.

So, here’s how it will work.

The Office of Green Industries SA has coordinated an agreement with key industry players to make it viable to transport the waste to Adelaide for recycling.

Pipe producer Netafim Australia is loaning a coiling machine to local Riverland farmers so the old pipes can be easily transported.

Providing the piping is free of excess dirt, Cleanaway is offering to accept the waste without charge at its Monash transfer station. It will then be taken on to Plastic Granulating Services in Adelaide for recycling.

Blog770px-IMG_0357“The next step will be to roll out a similar service in the Barossa and then we’ll be looking at other regions,” said Simon

The Riverland’s $2.2 billion economy is hugely dependent on irrigation for local horticulture to survive.

The region grows about 30 per cent of the national wine grape crush which is over 60 per cent of South Australia’s total output. The 40,000 hectares of irrigated land is also a major source of citrus, stonefruit, almonds and vegetables.

SA Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board is helping to promote the initiative.

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