C21 SunRice Grower of the year working with SIP2 researchers

In August 2021 Rice Extension announced Darrell Fiddler, farm manager at De Bortoli Wines near Griffith at the C21 SunRice Grower of the year. Darrell has been working with Matt Champness and the team at Deakin University to improve his return per ML of water. The intension was automated irrigation and the production of aerobic rice. To achieve this the team developed linked sensing, forecast and automation systems and produced the first commercial aerobic rice crop in Australia. The team were also looking to determine thresholds to trigger irrigation events to achieve optimal water management in aerobic rice.

Reducing or eliminating the period of permanent flooding of a rice crop by flush irrigating can substantially reduce rice water use. Automated surface irrigation systems can overcome the increased labour burden associated with high frequency flush irrigation of rice. Key to maximising water productivity in an aerobic rice system is the need to understand irrigation requirements. Integration of sensing and forecasting (soil moisture conditions and extreme weather events) with smart sensing automation systems allow for irrigation events to be forecast, allowing water to be applied when required.