A central Hawke's Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.
Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years.
"It struck me that the successful farmers there were the ones that saw the potential of irrigation very early, and then went through the process of developing toally new farming systems to make sure that they could capture the value of the water."
Mr Fraser says the challenge for central Hawke's Bay will be to determine the farming systems to adopt to take advantage of the irrigation project."
"Certainly we will have to be farming a lot more intensively than we do at the moment."
The council expects to know by August if the Ruataniwha project is economically and environmentally feasible.