Fact Sheet

Precision automated furrow irrigation for the Australian sugar industry

What is the project about?

Previous research has shown that automation of furrow irrigation can improve water use efficiency and reduce labour and energy requirements. This project is building grower understanding of the feasibility of furrow irrigation systems previously trialled successfully in the Burdekin, for southern sugar growing regions. It is addressing the issues involved in adapting existing automation technology to different water supplies and on farm water delivery infrastructure; different soils and cropping practices and different field layouts.

It is also assessing whether furrow automation systems can collect the necessary data to provide accurate estimates of water applied, runoff and deep drainage losses to enable better irrigation scheduling decisions. The information gathered during the trials will enable the development of design guidelines and indicative system costs and benefits.

Key results to date

Research activities have focused on the use of SISCOWeb to generate irrigation efficiency, uniformity, and control decisions. This means that the same logic can be applied to furrow irrigation of both Sugarcane and Cotton or any instance where conventional furrow irrigation is practiced.

Testing of SISCOweb was conducted in sugarcane fields in Bundaberg where data was collected, processed and analysed automatically and in real time by SISCOweb. This testing also included the sending of SMS alerts of optimal shut off times whilst the irrigation was still underway. This testing identified some areas for improvement in terms of the sensors but the SISCOweb modelling worked as anticipated.

The project team is also investigating the use of Padman automation infrastructure which provides a cloud-based alternative to the farm based WiSA systems installed in the Burdekin.

For further information download the fact sheet or contact Dr Malcolm Gillies Project Leader. Contact details found in downloadable PDF.