A desert nursery promoted by a leading Australian varsity is providing tips to farmers on conserving water.
The Alice Springs water retention project of the Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory is saving thousands of litres a year and has become a model for local gardeners in central Australia.
The Alice Springs campus nursery is a hub for horticultural lecturers and community groups who use the facilities through the year.
The small-scale, community-based nursery aims to showcase examples of water conservation to industry, desert communities, community groups and the general public.
Water is saved on two fronts with a specialised catchment area that collects run-off from sprinklers and holds water to help establish local native plants.
The second initiative sees run-off from an adjacent shed fed into a 13 000 litre tank.
Improved sprinkler heads and water scheduling also have delivered big reductions in usage.
Greening Australia shares a bond with the university with local volunteers propagating plants on site.
Nursery Manager for Greening Australia Alice Springs, Frances Martin said local volunteers enjoyed their time nurturing native fauna and flora, and shared their knowledge in the wider community.
Jenny Purdie is one local volunteer who enjoys her time at the nursery, gaining knowledge about local plant life and mixing with other like-minded locals.
She joins many others in the community who volunteer or attend CDU's evening horticultural classes and learn about the new water-saving initiatives.
Primary Industries and Children's Services Team Leader at CDU, Jade Kudrenko said the project developed the nursery to industry best practice.
"Water conservation is a hot topic people are starting to take seriously, so we thought this was a major step to address the environmental footprint of this campus," she said.
"This is an on-going project and, while we are teaching our students, it's still an on-going learning curve for us all to better manage water resources."