Case Study

Economic case study – Integrated smart sensing and automation for cotton bankless channel irrigation

This case study analyses the application of smart sensing and automation in an example bankless channel cotton irrigation system. Costs and benefits were analysed over a 10-year period using discounted cashflows (5% discount rate).

Key findings were:

  • When labour savings are coupled with either small water savings or yield benefits from more efficient irrigation scheduling, the technology has the potential to generate a positive return on investment.
  • Over an example 100 ha, the upfront cost of smart irrigation control in bankless channel cotton ranged from $155/ha (30 ha bays) to $328/ha (10 ha bays) and generated a positive return for all bay sizes.
  • Lifestyle factors such as reduced reliance on casual staff, reduced human error, and improved work-life-balance provide additional benefits.

The smart sensing and automation system, developed by Deakin University and Padman Automation, uses a range of sensors to measure soil and water parameters to automatically control irrigations.