Irrigation tool helps growers get more "crop for their drop"

Three upcoming Irrigation Field Days will give Tasmanian farmers the opportunity to test out a new irrigation tool that uses local weather data to enhance water budgets and irrigation scheduling decisions.

Developed by the Centre for Agricultural Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), and Dairy Australia, IrriPasture is designed for Australian dairy farmers to help use water more efficiently.

IrriPasture is a simple web-based tool that uses a dashboard, accessible on the phone, to provide recommendations on how much and when to irrigate. Farm details are set up in IrriPasture, and it then uses weather data from Bureau of Meteorology sites and irrigation data to calculate the water budget and provide recommendations for irrigation.

IrriPasture has been developed as part of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 2 (SIP2) project, a partnership between the dairy, cotton, horticulture, rice, and grain sectors, supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program and each of the industries involved.

The project’s first phase, Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 1 (SIP1), was conducted between 2015 and 2018. The outcomes were significant for the dairy industry in identifying irrigation management practices that were constraining the optimal yield of pastures and crops in irrigated areas.  SIP2 has been developed using the findings from SIP1.

“SIP1 was our opportunity to collect data. Through that process, we recognized farmers were only growing at about half of what they potentially could be achieving, James Hills, TIA Senior Research Fellow and Centre Leader, Livestock Production said.

“From West Australia to Queensland, to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, we installed technology to understand what was happening in terms of our irrigation so we can optimize our irrigation practice to get the best productivity out of it,” James Hills said.

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