Many Kiwis think irrigation is good in a phone poll commissioned by Irrigation New Zealand.
Just over 70 per cent of people surveyed from Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay believed irrigation overall was good for New Zealand. Another 9 per cent rated it bad and the rest were unsure in the survey for the organisation representing irrigators.
The poll confirmed New Zealanders recognised the link between irrigation and their ability to buy cheap and plentiful produce in supermarkets.
Irrigation chief executive Andrew Curtis, said he did not expect such a positive response to irrigation from the public and was encouraged by the results.
"Close to two-thirds overall agree that irrigation is good for New Zealand. This appears to be the case across the political spectrum which reinforces our belief in the need for a bi-partisan approach to irrigation.''
The organisation is asking politicians to come together during an election year to develop a strong vision to continue modernising irrigation infrastructure and systems for sustainable development to benefit rural and city Kiwis.
The poll identified food production, water management and economic growth as major benefits of irrigation.
Irrigation's environmental impact was identified as a concern and there was a call for irrigators to limit nutrient losses, monitor water use and limit water wastage.
Curtis said irrigation was not just a rural issue and all New Zealanders needed to use water efficiently.
The focus needed to turn to urban and rural water storage development, he said.
"The survey shows us New Zealanders recognise irrigation's role in producing affordable and diverse food, but they want to know more about how irrigation works, who is responsible and how it impacts the environment.''
Curtis said irrigators were working with agencies, organisations and individuals to minimise its impact on rivers and river flows. Water quality limits were being set for irrigators to sustainably manage water, he said.