In an industry such as cotton, on-farm evaporation losses cost the industry over A$1 billion per year. Each additional megalitre of available water allows the production of around 1.9 additional bales of cotton and around 650kg of cotton seed. The ability to reduce evaporation could fundamentally change the ‘use it or lose it’ predicament Australian farmers now face regarding water. By allowing water to be used when it is most profitable, when prices for the farmed commodity are high, and retained for future use when prices are low, long term profitability of irrigated farming can be substantially increased.
Covering a cotton farm water reservoir with TopUp Balls will save around 18 ML of water per Hectare covered. This translates into approximately 36 bales of cotton lint and 12 tonnes of cottonseed.
Additional Revenue through Fish Farming:
The TopUp Ball System enables water in cotton farm storages to be used for fish farming which can create an additional revenue stream for cotton farmers. A study by the Australian cotton industry has found that native silver perch are the easiest to culture in farm reservoirs and it is “highly feasible” to do so “when pond construction, water and infrastructure costs are offset by other farm activities”.
However the study also noted that: “the pond based industry in eastern Australia has failed to reach its full potential dues to high losses from bird predation and the difficulties feeding and managing stocks in green ponds.” The benefits of protecting fish from low winter temperatures are also cited in the study.
The Top-Up Ball System provides a solution to all these issues. By all but eliminating bird predation and reducing unfriendly temperature fluctuations and extremes, TopUp Balls create a safer environment for fish which dramatically increases yields. In addition, the Top-Up Ball has been found to provide a highly suitable environment for growing micro-algae and zooplankton, which provide an excellent food source for fish. Fish have been observed to feed from the bottom hole in the TopUp Ball where the micro-algae and zooplankton rich water is released. Further investigation is currently underway to confirm the full extent of this effect.