Study to tap into farmers

LOCAL irrigators are being sought to share how they make use of their water.

Throughout May, Dr Ellen Douglas, a US researcher working with CSIRO, Dr Sarah Wheeler of the University of South Australia (UniSA), and David Smith of CSIRO-Griffith will be surveying irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation region about how they make water use decisions.

Dr Douglas and her colleagues are hoping to find out more about how irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin make water use decisions for their farms, and how these decisions change in the face of reduced water availability.

"This is an independent research effort by CSIRO and UniSA, but our results will be shared with MIL, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and other agencies to help with long-term water management issues," Dr Douglas said.

If you are an irrigator and willing to participate in the online survey, please click on the link: www.surveymonkey. com/s/MI_irrigators

"We know this is a busy time of year, so we are offering all survey participants a chance to win one of four gift certificates for the Coles Group and Myer Gift Card.

"Winners will be selected randomly after the survey is closed.

"We are also looking for 10 to 12 irrigators to participate in a workshop at CSIRO-Griffith Lab."

The workshop is scheduled for Thursday from 9am to 11.30am, with lunch following.

Workshop participants will be paid $100 each to compensate their time.

"We hope to learn the details, the nuances, the obvious and not-so-obvious influences that affect irrigation water use decisions," Dr Douglas said.

"We will present a simple but powerful tool (called a Mental Model; see www.mentalmodeler.org) that will help us to build a model of irrigator knowledge and experience in water use decision making.

"We believe that the mental model that we build together will help us as researchers better understand how numeric factors (ie. water volumes, farm size, financial capital) and non-numeric factors (information sources, trust, community support, values, beliefs) affects farming practices and decision making. We also believe this model will be a useful tool in communicating to others (scientists, policy makers, government officials) how you do what you do and the factors that make what you do easier or harder."

If you would like to participate in the workshop, you can contact Ellen at ellen.douglas@csiro.au or call 6218 3441 or 0424 217 548.

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