Final report for Smarter Irrigation for Profit Stage 2 research released

Dairy Australia has released a summary of the final report  for the second phase of its six-year Smarter Irrigation for Profit research project, providing invaluable insights for Australian farmers around effective irrigation.

The research is already helping farmers across Australia make better irrigation decisions, which can improve water use efficiency and lead to greater profit.

The Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 2 project (also known as SIP2) is a partnership between the dairy, cotton, horticulture, rice and grain sectors. It is funded by each of the industries involved with support from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

As part of SIP2, ten Dairy Optimisation sites were established across the seven dairy regions of mainland Australia to capture data for up to three irrigation seasons or defined irrigation periods. 

The objective for each irrigated dairy optimisation site was to decrease the ‘yield gap’ between modelled yield potential and measured yield, using the first season as a baseline. Data on irrigation system performance and design, water and energy usage, and pasture productivity was collated each year for each site to provide objective measurement of system performance and to determine changes throughout the project.

By trialling a variety of technologies and strategies on local farms, and having the optimisation site farmers communicate and discuss their experiences in using the data to inform irrigation decisions, the benefits, and challenges of closing the irrigation yield gap were identified and explored. The project found increased water productivity was gained from implementing the following key irrigation principles:

  • Maintain irrigation systems to ensure efficient and effective operation;
  • Determine Readily Available Water (RAW) for each soil type being irrigated;
  • Use a water balance calculator tool to inform irrigation scheduling decisions to apply water at the right time and right rate to maintain soil moisture in the RAW zone;
  • Monitor forecast ETo and rainfall information to assist in more immediate decisions;
  • Monitor soil moisture, using professionally installed soil moisture monitors and reliable telemetry, to inform irrigation start-up decisions at the commencement of the season or after rainfall events;
  • Commence irrigation on-time at the beginning of the season or after rainfall to avoid a green drought scenario where future irrigation is ineffective;
  • Know the capacity of the system and schedule irrigation accordingly to maintain soil moisture requirements whilst deploying other cost-effective measures (e.g. off-peak power) and;
  • Maintain soil moisture within the RAW zone to create the ideal platform for strategic nitrogen use.

Visit the Smarter Irrigation for Profit webpage to find out more about the project and access the tools and resources generated by the research.

You're viewing the Dairy Australia website. To view regional dairy information, select a region.
Cookies help Dairy Australia improve your website experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.