Landscape Irrigation Conference - Roundup

The Landscape Irrigation Conference and Exhibition was conducted over 18 and 19 June in Queensland. The focus of the event was on landscape irrigation and to get delegates and irrigation practitioners to think differently about water, to use more water more efficiently and to provide solutions to avoid wasteful use of water. The aim was to ensure we make “every drop count”.

The Nursery and Garden Industry was a co-partner of the conference, given the importance of the landscape sector as a customer, and to highlight the benefits and value of landscape spaces in urban areas. There was a united and common theme across the conference of quantifying and highlighting the benefits of landscape areas by the co-hosting nursery, irrigation, turf and landscape industries.

The Queensland Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries, The Hon Mark Furness MP, opened the conference declaring he is a true water conservationist. Minister Furness noted that early in his career he worked in a nursery and made the link between water use efficiency and precision irrigation. He also indicated that all the industries present need to think globally and act locally for innovation and that the conference was important to focus on the urban irrigation sector given the importance of using water wisely in visible public areas.

Below is a summary of some of the nursery industry relevant presentations and key messages to consider for nursery businesses:

Irrigating a Changing World: How our choices for planning, designing, constructing and maintaining landscapes can lead to a new and sustainable story – Costa Georgiadis, Host of ABC Gardening Australia

This was an inspiring presentation as Costa is a passionate advocate for water use efficiency and he highlighted that we need to lift the profile of the value of water and to lift the importance of landscape areas. To do this Costa then explained that “we”, those in the industry, must make the context and concept of landscaped areas a reality through the messages we deliver and the stories we tell.

Urban green spaces are vital as sources for “therapeutic horticulture” and must be promoted and publicised as such. Costa questioned if we are selling the importance of this and how the “narrative” or story is delivered. The identity of the nursery industry and the collective industries (nursery, irrigation, turf and landscape) is the great story and we need to bring the audience along for the ride.

Out identity as an industry is the biggest story and we need to bring the audience along for the ride. He advised that part of this is to get the “narrative” across to kids and get families more connected. He finished by asking all in the industry to tell the story of urban landscapes and to tell the story around plants.

Growing Cool Cities, The Role of Irrigated Green Cover – Mark Siebentritt, Seed Consulting
Mark provided a presentation on the cooling benefits of irrigated green spaces. He has conducted significant research on the heat island effect across Australian urban areas to a 250m x 250m grid level and demonstrated the cooling effect of irrigated ground cover. His presentation was focussed on the benefits of natural turf against artificial turf but stressed that a mixed plant green cover landscape is important and not to be replaced by impervious surfaces. Mark’s conclusion was “the decisions we make today about how are cities are constructed influences how cool they will be now and in the future”.

Big Leaf Wholesale Nursery – Case Study
Kieran Studders (owner) and Lex McMullin (NGIQ) provided a presentation on how the irrigation system was reviewed, designed, developed and installed for Big Lead Wholesale Nursery. The nursery irrigation “improvement process” was based on the following:
  • Set up the irrigation system to best management practices
  • Consider the plants being grown, the area to cover, sprinkler type, pressure, flow rates, indoor/outdoor
  • Conduct “catch can” testing for evenness and amounts
  • Install a small area for testing and then adjust pressures
  • Install the sprinkler system across the nursery
Once installed, the nursery established a method of capturing data on the irrigation system, to keep assessing its performance for maximum water use efficiency.

Peter Vaughan provide a presentation at the Conference on NGIA and the vote of members to establish Greenlife Industry Australia. He highlighted the importance of the landscape sector as a customer group of the nursery industry and the economic, social and environmental benefits of landscaped urban areas across Australia.