Editorial by Andrew Gregson

We’ve just concluded our first Conference. Held at Old Parliament House in Canberra, it attracted great numbers and some sensational international keynote speakers. The theme of the event was Perspectives on Irrigated Agriculture and was designed to prod people – in the words of Professor Tony Allan – to “think differently”.
Why “think differently”? Simple, really; a different perspective on a problem is a great way to find a solution that in hindsight might be obvious. It is very simple to be caught up in the day-today issues in which we find ourselves dealing. To occasionally take the time to step back, look from a different angle and to view the bigger picture can be most rewarding. It allows us to refocus, to see where it is that we’re trying to go and to fashion a path to get there.
The last session of the day was titled “What Have We Learned”. Its aim was to ensure that people captured something from the event; that they identified at least something in the day that was worth remembering and acting upon. I know I certainly did. In listening to the views of our two international keynote speakers – Professor Tony Allan from Kings College of London and Mike Wade, the Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition – I quickly realised that we’re not alone. Irrigators in Australia are facing many of the same issues that those in California and Europe are facing. We’re all dealing with it in subtly different ways, which is ideal; there is much for us to learn from others. What works in dealing with public perceptions in California might well work here. At very least, it’s worth a try. A big realisation for me, though, came from Professor Allan. Like all good realisations, it’s one that is perfectly obvious in hindsight. The demand for water is not driven by irrigators – it’s driven by consumers. We grow what consumers demand. It is the consumer, then, that must take at least part of the responsibility for the use of water in agriculture.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Winter 2013 [HERE]