Smarter Irrigation for Profit

Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 2 will address the challenge of reduced water availability by improving the water productivity of Australian cropping and pasture irrigators. It will do this by developing new precision irrigation technologies, improving existing technologies and facilitating faster uptake through producer led demonstration sites.

Smarter Irrigation for Profit – Phase 2 incorporates three key areas of work.
1. Developing new and innovative irrigation technologies. Technologies include the application of new sensors, advanced analytics to improve irrigation scheduling and strategies to reduce water storage evaporation.
2. Optimising the benefits of autonomous irrigation. Research activities include improving automation components and developing more robust networks for sensing, control and precision application to facilitate faster adoption. Research will be conducted on commercial farms to enable producer input and to make sure outputs are cost effective and practical.
3.Closing the productivity yield gap via best practice irrigation extension.  Thirty five producer and private sector led irrigation optimisation sites will be established across the cotton, dairy and sugar, rice and grains industries. These sites will support extension of the “basics” as well as building knowledge and skills in managing current and new precision irrigation technologies. Cross sector learning will be supported through integrated extension activities and tours. 
The expected outcome is a 10-20% increase in the water productivity of over 4000 irrigated cropping and pasture agricultural enterprises.
This program is supported by five Rural Development Corporations (grains, rice, cotton, dairy and sugar), through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Program.  ICC are involved in the third component of this program along with Southern Growers (Finley), IREC (Whitton) and Central West Farming Systems (Condobolin) as part of the ‘Key learning sites southern – making the most of water’ project. This project looks to investigate ways to increase water productivity in the grains, cotton and rice industries with support from GRDC, CRDC and AgriFutures. 

Murray Valley Soil Moisture Monitoring Network

One of the key outcomes from this project is the Murray Valley Soil Moisture Monitoring Network. Many irrigators are late with the first Spring irrigation. This delay has the potential to result in disappointing yields and a reduction in water use efficiency. The key is to monitor soil closely and irrigate on time. The network website allows farmers to keep track of the soil moisture levels in their area to assist with irrigation scheduling.

This network was made possible this season through the Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase 2 ‘Key Learning Sites – making the most of water’ project.

Phase 1

Smarter Irrigation for Profit

Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 1 found participating Australian irrigators could achieve a 10-30 percent improvement in water productivity by adopting precision irrigation technologies.

The Smarter Irrigation for Profit (SIP) project did valuable research into irrigation system audits, irrigation scheduling, investigation of new technology, evaluation of system design and water use efficiency. The project demonstrated that improved water productivity hinged on ‘getting the basics right’. It found that participating Australian irrigators could achieve a 10-20 percent improvement in farm profitability by adopting best practice and precision irrigation technologies.