Irrigator relations with water in the Sunraysia region, northwestern Victoria



Publication Details

Head, L., Klocker, N., Dun, O. & Spaven, T. (2018). Irrigator relations with water in the Sunraysia region, northwestern Victoria. Geographical Research, 56 (1), 92-106.


Irrigated agriculture faces significant challenges under climate change, and may not be feasible in parts of the Murray‐Darling Basin beyond 2050. Recent research into the cultural politics of water has paid limited attention to the water cultures and relations of irrigators in Minority World countries. We analyse the water relations of grape farm irrigators in the Sunraysia region of Victoria using interviews and farm tours undertaken between 2014 and 2016. Findings are summarised under five themes: (1) the sociality of irrigation water, (2) temporal and spatial relations, (3) the risk of rain, (4) the micro‐scale of water knowledge, and (5) environment as actor. These themes shed light on the diverse relations that constitute both environmental and irrigation water. Irrigators are embedded in these relations at multiple scales, local and distant, mediated by technology and infrastructure. The scale of our focus makes visible water and other forms of environmental knowledge that often go unnoticed in broader debates over irrigation. The concept of "the environment", understood as an embodied actor in policy discourse and by irrigators, is an emergent trend that warrants ongoing research attention.

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