Agriculture Minister David Carter has decided to fund a wider range of community irrigation projects to try to boost their number.
The rules of the Government's Community Irrigation Fund will be widened, to allow it to pay for technical design work for irrigation schemes and training for scheme developers.
The fund was set up in 2008, with a budget of $5.7 million over eight years, to help agricultural producers and rural communities avoid water shortages.
Mr Carter says projects are taking too long to get going, and by changing the criteria he is aiming to get the money spent faster.
Irrigation New Zealand chairman Graeme Sutton says the changes are a step in the right direction, but more money should be allocated if the fund's work is broadened, as there'll be more demand.
Mr Carter says he will consider going back to Cabinet for more money for the fund once the need is shown.