Water Productivity, efficiency and sustainability in tropical horticulture

Strategic policy development
Reference number
CRCNA funding
Total project value
Project length
3 years
Finish date
Project Status
Project Manager
Sarah Docherty


  • Northern Territory Farmers Association Incorporated (NT Farmers)
  • Northern Territory of Australia - Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT)
  • Power and Water Corporation
  • Territory Natural Resource Management Incorporated
  • Northern Territory of Australia Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS)
  • Australian Mango Industry Association


The project will test the hypothesis that horticulture producers in the tropics are using significantly less irrigation water than is currently being allocated with little or no negative impact on productivity and profitability. This research project will establish sites within existing commercial production systems and use cutting-edge soil moisture monitoring and interpretation irrigation technology and scheduling programs to determine optimum irrigation inputs for key horticultural crops in the tropics. The empirical data for differing crops and systems will then identify the range of irrigation inputs required per crop per situation and establish agreed benchmarks for water allocation determinations.

Expected outcomes

Water allocation is currently a limiting factor for expansion and development in the Top End, any increase in water use efficiency can be directly attributed to increased production.

NTFA estimates a 10% increase in water use efficiency for mangoes and vegetable crops grown in the NT would result in an increase in production of $4,430/ML, which would equate to increased value of production to $210M from the same resource. That is $19M preseason that could be directly invested back into the mango and vegetable regions of the Top End. Similar outcomes would be expected in other water limited areas such as the Carnarvon region in Western  Australia and the Burdekin Region in Queensland.