The challenge

Trusting irrigation data versus going with your gut feel

Irrigation management relies on farmers taking many things into account.  Timing for example, is critical to maximise crop yield and quality. Successful managers do this well, but often need to rely on experience rather than definitive data to make their decisions. Differences in soil type, regional climate, water availabililty, system capacity, attitude to risk and the amount of data collected means that irrigation management should be tailored and responsive.  Decisions can be even more difficult when the situation is considerably different from normal, such as with extreme weather events.

Our response

Harnessing the digital revolution for irrigation decisions

Recent improvements in wireless sensor technology and advanced data analytics means that we can use plant and soil-based sensors to continually monitor crops and soils providing unprecedented information.

We've already led ground-breaking research in plant-based sensing technologies to improve yield and water use efficiency in Australian cotton.  They system uses proximal (single location in the field) continuous canopy temperature measurement and offers growers a simple means of identifying crop stress.

In conjunction with existing soil measurements, WaterWise can offer significantly refined irrigation scheduling decisions in a range of high value crops.

The results

WaterWise meeting industry needs

Our platform provides irrigation decision making based on both monitored and forecasted crop water stress status.  It incorporates advanced data analytics, spatial sensing systems, weather forecasts, and novel physiology  research in crop bio-chemistry.

CSIRO and Queensland-based Agtech company, Goanna Ag, have announced a partnership that will see sensors and analytics be used to help growers better understand and maximise the use of irrigation water to grow crops.  Goanna Ag will incorporate WaterWise into its existing GoField irrigation management system.

CSIRO and Goanna Ag bring smart sensors to help farmers improve crop water usage

Goanna Ag expects that the system to incorporates WaterWise to be commercially available in time for the 2020 cropping season.

Meanwhile, CSIRO has advised that it plans to expand WaterWise's in-field based canopy sensors to drones or satellites.

Earlier this year, one of Australia's largest horticultural companies, Costa group began rolling out an artificial intelligence system to better understand and manage the quantity and quality of its berry crops.  The Sensing+ system, developed by Sydney-based company, the Yield, has been designed to measure 14 variables of a typical agriculture model such as rain, light. wind, temperature and soil moisture in real time.  The information is then ingested into a Internet of Things platform and combined with existing data sets shared by Costa before AI is applied to create a localised predication of each berry crop.

The system was installed within the polytunnels of Costas eight berry farms in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

[Image shows a field of plants with a woman holding a high tech looking metal tube with a small solar panel at one end]

Imagine you’re trying to survive on 12mm of water a day. That’s what these commercial tomato are given even in the middle of summer.
What we’re trying to do is see if we can reduce this amount of water to ten, eight or even six mm of water a day. We’re using sensors, the weather forecasts and smart analytics to save water and still produce the perfect tomato.

[Image changes to show a cursor moving around a website and clicking on links to show heat and canopy temperature over several days]
Using WaterWise, for the first time, grows can see in real time the water stress of their crop today and are now able to predict their crops’ future water needs. That’s the real breakthrough science.

[Image changes to show a woman bending down running her hands through plants and looking at the soil]
Just like humans, plants have an optimum temperature so we’re using temperature canopy sensors to directly measure the plant, which then tells us how stressed it is and how much water it needs.

[Image changes to show a man and a woman placing the metal tube on a pole in the crop]
Using our WaterWise app, growers can time irrigations to keep the plant in its optimum range.

[Image shows a field of plants with a woman holding a high tech looking metal tube with a small solar panel at one end]
Together with our grower partners, we’re currently testing our WaterWise system in high value commercial crops.

[Image changes to show CSIRO logo. Music plays. Text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

WaterWise: helping farmers reduce the water footprint of high value crops

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