The national irrigation body, Irrigation New Zealand, says tapping into a new fund will allow a number of irrigation projects already under way to make rapid progress.
The Government is allocating $35 million over five years to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund to help the development of schemes up to the investment stage.
Announced in the Budget in May, the fund is now open for business.
Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis says a number of schemes in Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Canterbury are ready to apply to the scheme, which will allow them to be rapidly progressed.
He says the fund should ensure a smoother flow of irrigation development, with the financial resources now available to match the development programme.
Mr Curtis says research by NZIER suggests the fund could support 340,000 hectares of new irrigation, which could boost agricultural exports by billions of dollars a year.