Research & Extension
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Increasing profitability from irrigated crops

Optimising farm scale returns from irrigated grains: maximising dollar return per megalitre of water

Given a limited availability of land, water for irrigation, crop requirements and grain prices, how do you choose which crop should be irrigated?

How much irrigation water should be applied, and on what area of land to maximise profits and minimise risks?

How can irrigation be applied over the whole-farm, accounting for variation in crop types and irrigation infrastructure across and between paddocks?

How does the type of irrigation system i.e. overhead laterals, pivots, flood irrigation, etc, affect crop gross margins and whole-farm profitability?

What is the risk or likelihood that the projected outcome will occur?

These questions are being addressed in a GRDC-funded project through co-development of a calculator (decision-support tool) called ‘WaterCan Profit’ for irrigation farmers and consultants.

WaterCan Profit has been built through discussions with growers in the Irrigation Groups and using results from the Research Trials conducted in the Optimising Irrigated Grains Initiative.

WaterCan Profit is a farmer-designed phone and web app that helps users identify land areas and water allocations to a range of irrigated and rainfed grain crops that maximise farm profits and minimise risks. The calculator also allows users to contrast long-term investment in irrigation infrastructure (e.g. centre pivot or flood-based irrigation).

A YouTube video of WaterCan Profit can be found here 
We seek feedback on the WaterCan Profit prototype from farmers, irrigation groups, consultants and agribusinesses. We aim to design a product that helps users address economic questions regarding irrigated crops and infrastructure.

We are also taking expressions of interest from potential hosts for the calculator.


To access a free copy of WaterCan Profit or to participate in this project please contact Assoc. Professor Matthew Harrison ([email protected]; 0437 655 139) or Prof Daniel Rodriguez (M 0434075094, E [email protected])


The optimising irrigated grains projects are part of the GRDC investment in ICF1906-002RTX: Facilitated action learning groups to support profitable irrigated farming systems in the northern and southern regions, FAR1906-003RTX: Development and validation of soil amelioration and agronomic practices to realise the genetic potential of grain crops grown under a high yield potential, irrigated environment in the northern and southern regions and UOT1906-002RTX: Optimising farm scale returns from irrigated grains: maximising dollar return per megalitre of water.