Smarter Irrigation for Profit (Phase II) is bringing together irrigation researchers, irrigators, advisors and technologists to develop practical, cost effective irrigation strategies and technologies to improve water productivity.

About the Project 

The Smarter Irrigation for Profit Project (Phase 2) is tackling the challenge of reduced water availability by focusing on practical, cost effective strategies to improve the water productivity of Australian cropping and pasture irrigators. The project is a partnership between the major irrigation industries of cotton, dairy, sugar, rice and grains, research organisations and farmer groups. The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, round four.

The project has 14 sub-projects covering three components:

  • Development of new irrigation technologies including new sensors, advanced analytics to improve irrigation scheduling and strategies to reduce water storage evaporation
  • Cost effective, practical automated irrigation systems for cotton, rice, sugar and dairy
  • A network of 36 farmer led optimised irrigation sites located on commercial farms across Australia.

For more information about the sub-projects, Cotton Research and Development Corporation’s website.

The objective of Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase 2 is to improve the profit of over 4000 cotton, dairy, rice, grains and sugar irrigators.

Of the 14 sub-projects, the AgriFutures Rice Program is funding two projects:

  • Project 1: Smart Irrigation control for water and labour savings in rice growing systems
  • Project 2: SIP2 – Key Learning Sites Southern (making the most of water)

Project 1: Smart Irrigation control for water and labour savings in rice growing systems

Led by Associate Professor John Horbuckle from Deakin University, this project will develop an integrated smart sensing and irrigation automation system capable of delivering the needed high level control parameters to successfully move towards a dry rice system of production, while reducing labour requirements and making more precise decisions on water management. This will allow rice growers to achieve water use productivity targets that will ensure a sustainable production base both from an economic and environmental perspective. Linkage of on-farm data to the Sunrice grower GIS portal will allow industry wide big data analytics to be used to drive efficiencies in both production, through benchmarking and also through the supply/delivery chain.

John Horbuckle

Associate Professor John Horbuckle from Deakin University

Project 2: SIP2 – Key Learning Sites Southern (making the most of water)

Led by Alex Schultz from NSW Department of Primary Industries, this project will investigate the use of soil moisture technology along with irrigation automation to test their ability to increase productivity and profitability of rice and cotton farms. This would be achieved through optimising the rice and cotton farming system enabling an increase in yield and quality through reduced moisture stress events, increase in input efficiency or a combination of the two. A key outcome of the project is to increase the knowledge of this new technology and ultimately its adoption, but also to increase adoption of current best management practise.

Alex Schultz from NSW Department of Primary Industries

Alex Schultz from NSW Department of Primary Industries

Project partners 

Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase 2 is led by CRDC in partnership with:

  • Dairy Australia
  • Sugar Research Australia
  • Grains Research and Development Corporation
  • AgriFutures Australia
  • CSIRO
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • Deakin University
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • NSW DPI
  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association
  • Supporting partners including farmer groups and commercial irrigation providers

 

Related media and resources

Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 1

Grower-led irrigation research and extension aimed to collect commercially relevant comparative data on different irrigation systems and technologies. The intention was to provide growers improved understanding of the implications for capital investment, management and the resource requirements (water, energy and labour) associated with different irrigation systems and the adoption of automation technology and different approaches to farming systems.

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Irrigators set to benefit across the board from Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase II

“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.”

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Collaboration and innovation provides big benefits for Australian irrigators

Irrigation researchers actively working with farmers to develop practical, cost effective strategies to optimise irrigation including autonomous irrigation systems, new irrigation technologies and strategies to improve irrigation scheduling.

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Irrigated Automation In Rice podcast

Dr John Hornbuckle (Deakin University) gives insight on how his project will develop automated sensing and control systems that will be essential for the success of a 'Dry Rice' system.

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Alex Schultz, NSW DPI talks about the SIFP (Phase 2) program and the key learning sites

Alex Schultz from NSW DPI talks about the Smarter Irrigation for Profit phase 2 Key learning sites in southern NSW. There are four demonstrations sites that are part of this project, Central West Farming Systems at Condobolin, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee site at Darlington Point, Irrigated Cropping Council at Kerang and Southern Growers at Finley.

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AgriFutures Rice Program researcher spotlight: John Hornbuckle

John Hornbuckle and the research team at Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures are looking to technology to make rice growing easier.

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