Led by Cotton Research and Development Corporation Project Manager, Cathy Phelps, the research program is a collaborative partnership between five of the major irrigation industries, key research organisations and local farmer groups.
“Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase II has brought together some of the best irrigation researchers in the country. These researchers are actively working across Australia’s irrigation industries to develop new irrigation technologies, to improve irrigation scheduling techniques and to investigate strategies to reduce water storage evaporation.”
“There is a strong focus on offering practical, cost effective strategies to improve efficiencies at a farm level, a critical requirement to enhance broad adoption of new tools and technologies throughout the irrigation industry,” said Ms Phelps.
Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase II Integration Coordinator Louise Gall said that one of the projects core strengths its applicability across a number of fields.
“Australian irrigation industries including cotton, dairy, sugar, rice and grains are using research and innovation to enhance productivity and profitability of over 4,000 farmers.
“The project is supporting a network of 36 farmer-led, optimised irrigation sites located on commercial farms across Australia. Farmers and advisors are working with researchers to optimise irrigation through the utilisation of existing and emerging decision support tools and technologies.”
“These sites are critical to boosting on farm adoption and will ensure that the information developed through the project is readily available to irrigators and their advisors. Farmers can visit these optimised irrigation sites to learn how technology can be utilised to enhance their own farm’s sustainability into the future,” Ms Gall said.
As part of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase II program, the AgriFutures Rice Program is funding two projects on smarter irrigation in rice. Lucinda Staley, AgriFutures Australia Manager, Research, is excited about the applications for these projects right across irrigated agriculture.
“The first of the two projects uses smart sensing to monitor soil moisture, crop stress and timely irrigation management to increase water use and labour efficiencies. The second is providing key learning sites which demonstrate these tools for farmers to improve the extension experience.”
“While these projects are focused on rice, these projects will have applications for all irrigated farming enterprises. AgriFutures Australia is also excited to be involved in a project that sees collaborative research across such a large number of industries.”
The Smarter Irrigation for Profit phase II is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, round four. The project is led by Cotton Research and Development Corporation in partnership with four other RDCs and nine research organisations. The project is building on the success of Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase I.