This project uses sensors and autonomous technology to develop a system that not only tells dairy farmers when to irrigate their pasture, but then goes ahead and does it for them by controlling pressurised pivot irrigators.
As well as automatically irrigating pastures, it applies variable volumes of water to the same paddock, saving farmers time, water and money.
The three-year project (concluded June 2018) established five pivot irrigated pasture sites on dairy farms in North and North-West Tasmania to collect data on power usage, water use, soil moisture and weather.
Using this information, the TIA research team worked closely with farmers to make changes to improve water use efficiency, and will continue monitoring the sites to measure the success of these changes. For example, by making the suggested adjustments, one of the farmers doubled his pasture growth rates from the previous year.
The project is trialling the automation system at one of the sites to see how this type of irrigation could be used to save farmers time and effort. The team has linked with The National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture at the University of Southern Queensland, who have developed a control platform called VARIWise. The VARIWise system has been developed and tested in cotton on mainland Australia, and this is the first time it will be applied to pasture-based farming.
Track the progress of this research and other Smarter Irrigation for Profit projects on social media by following our hashtag #SmarterIrrigation
Want to know more? The project is a sub-project of a larger national project.