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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Promotion of Irrigation Works

Promotion of Irrigation Works.

The Revising Committee's remarks on this subject were:—"It is a source of regret that our Government has not seen its way clear to make any progress in the way suggested at our last Conference in the improvement of the work of irrigation, and it is now thought that our county councils with the assistance of the Government might do something to encourage the promotion of irrigation works, not losing sight of the importance of working on a comprehensive plan."

Mr Grigg moved, "That the Government be asked to appoint a competent engineer who may be consulted and requested to report on any districts requiring water for irrigation, regard being had in all eases to the present or future requirements of the adjoining districts." More would be thought of this question, he said, before long than now. The settlers were very slow to avail themselves of the advantages of irrigation in the Ashburton district, but in one portion a company was proceeding to irrigate, and if that was successful he was sure the county would be inflamed with a desire to follow suit. The works should in every case be undertaken only after consultation with a competent engineer, and he thought therefore they were quite justified in asking Government to appoint such a person, seeing that so great a benefit would be gained by the introduction of water to large areas of land in all parts of the Colony.

Mr Williamson seconded the motion, thinking that the increase of produce would be more than one-half if irrigation was properly carried out all over New Zealand. Nothing would advance the interests of the Colony so much as irrigation, and nothing would pay the Government better than to expend money in that direction.

Mr Wilson agreed with what had been said as to the benefits of irrigation, but reminded the Conference that the mere irrigation of land was not sufficient. Irrigation only would quickly exhaust the land in many cases, and they must supply manures also and see carefully to the drainage. In Hawke's Bay he thought they could grow anything with proper irrigation, and he hoped the Conference would derive some benefit from passing the resolution.

Mr Buchanan spoke from personal experience of the wonderful results obtained by proper irrigation in various parts of America, and he thought that irrigation would play a most important part in the future of Canterbury.

Mr Hall said he had seen a good deal of irrigation in Australia, and was convinced that irrigation was not yet out of the experimental stage, and was still very expensive.

Mr Barnett said the question was, what was to be done with the water placed on high and poor land, when it came to pass over heavy, good land?

Mr Grigg said the application of irrigation to gardens, as in Australia, as referred to by Mr Hall, was not in his mind when speaking to the motion. As to its damaging the low land after passing over high land there was very little danger of that in a large part of Canterbury, and in other parts the rivers were so close together that there would be no difficulty in passing the water into then Let them help at first where there was no obstacle to begin with, and then the other districts could be dealt with in due course. As to the deterioration of land by the growth of crops, he said there was a great delusion on that subject. If the land could bear [unclear: gors] seed for so many years without [unclear: deteriorsation] did not that upset the idea that land could be so quickly exhausted He had himself irrigated some of his [unclear: wors] land, and he found one man was able to irrigate hundreds of acres, and lambs put on the irrigated grass did as well as on rap[unclear: e] course they must be put on thin, and not to soon after the water had been taken off, as it required the sun to restore the saccharin matter to the grass. There was no reason to fear exhaustion of land in consequence of irrigation, for the growth of grain crop[unclear: s] irrigated land in New Zealand, he maintained was impracticable, but in grass land [unclear: the] must be a continuous addition to the fertility of the soil if fed off by stock. The exhaustion of the soil by weeds is what the agricultural have most to fear.

Mr Murphy spoke of the great benefit that had been obtained in Ireland by mean of irrigation, by which the rental value of land had been in some cases increased from 8s to £2 an acre.

The resolution was then put and carried.