$10m scheme a ‘win, win’


A bar­ren ter­race hid­den from view above Clyde is to be­come a di­verse mix of farm­ing sys­tems, in­clud­ing vine­yards and fruit or­chards.

Pioneer En­ergy has en­tered a joint ven­ture with ir­ri­ga­torowned Dairy Creek Ir­ri­ga­tion Com­pany to in­vest in a $10 mil­lion ir­ri­ga­tion scheme on the out­skirts of Alexan­dra, in Cen­tral Otago.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Fraser Jonker said wa­ter would be drawn from the Clutha River at the Dairy Creek in­let on Lake Dun­stan and would be de­liv­ered to 1800 hectares of land, pri­mar­ily as a source for hor­ti­cul­tural and agri­cul­tural users.

‘‘We con­tinue our di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion strat­egy with this project be­ing our first in­vest­ment in an ir­ri­ga­tion scheme. We see this as a very good fit with our back­ground in hy­dro gen­er­a­tion and get­ting wa­ter sim­ply from one place to an­other.’’

The scheme would en­able landown­ers to turn what was gen­er­ally dry, bare land into arable and pro­duc­tive prop­erty, and as­sure wa­ter sup­ply dur­ing drier years.

‘‘An im­por­tant fea­ture of the scheme is the re­li­a­bil­ity of the wa­ter. That is one thing the scheme of­fered com­pared to other schemes.’’

Dairy Creek Part­ner­ship Ltd di­rec­tor Tim O’Sul­li­van said Cen­tral Otago was one of the dri­est re­gions in the coun­try and the scheme would en­able landown­ers to make ‘‘a hell of a pro­duc­tive gain’’.

‘‘The land is fairly unproductive. A lot has been in na­tive state, grow­ing thyme and briar and nox­ious weeds ef­fec­tively. Pre­dom­i­nantly in the past, com­pa­nies had looked at con­vert­ing to dairy. In re­cent times, that has turned to hor­ti­cul­ture. There is a grow­ing de­mand for greater di­ver­sity of crops within the com­mand area so you are go­ing to see ev­ery­thing from pas­ture to vine­yards, hor­ti­cul­ture - which will com­prise of ap­ples, cher­ries, blue­ber­ries - its go­ing to be a di­verse mix of farm­ing sys­tems. None of these op­tions are an op­tion with­out wa­ter.’’

About 85 per cent of the com­mand area had al­ready been de­vel­oped for the ir­ri­ga­tion scheme and was ready for plant­ing.

About 10 landown­ers were in­volved in the scheme, but that would grow, he said.

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