Irrigation New Zealand says its members will need to lift their game in water conservation if they want to continue receiving consents to take water.
Latest regional council figures indicate irrigators took up to 65 percent of allocated water throughout Canterbury during last year's dry period, which Irrigation New Zealand says is a better than expected result.
But chief executive Andrew Curtis says they will have to do even more to irrigation more efficiently.
"We're getting a lot better but there are still a lot of people that need to start better scheduling their irrigation," Mr Curtis says.
That can be done through such things as soil moisture monitoring, so they only irrigate when it's necessary.
Mr Curtis believes about a quarter of Irrigation New Zealand's members already use such methods but says the number will increase "massively" as farm environmental plans will be required through the land and water regional plan if farmers want to continue taking water.