Maximising the Value of Irrigation

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Lead Organisation: Plant and Food Research + Landcare Research  Project leader: Hamish Brown + Carolyn Hedley

Objective – The 2013–2019 MBIE programme ‘Maximising the Value of Irrigation’ (MVI) is undertaking research to develop management strategies and new technologies that support industry to improve productivity, minimise wasted water, and reduce negative environmental impacts from irrigated land.

Update – Objective 1 Spatial information for irrigation equipment selection and operation-

1.1 Soil informatic systems have been developed to make soil data (e.g. soil moisture) more easily available at the relevant spatial scale and temporal frequency for timely irrigation scheduling.

1.2 A soil sensor survey method has been developed to classify soil differences for targeted soil sampling, and the acquired soil data have been correlated, using soil hydraulic properties, with Smap siblings mapped within the target area.

1.3 Connected wireless sensor networks (soil, crop, rain) have been created, built and shared with participating farmers through smart phone apps and web browsers to support irrigation scheduling decisions.

Objective2 Soil management to capture more water and reduce water losses –

2.1 Tillage and soil surface management can reduce irrigation requirements and water losses.

2.2 The temporal change of soil water properties in cultivated soils has been quantified, and will assist with irrigation scheduling aimed at applying the right amount at the right time.

3 Crop monitoring techniques for accurate water scheduling –

3.1 Crop water use can be measured spatially.

3.2 Integrating real-time data streams from sensors with models can improve irrigation scheduling.

4 Integration to develop tools for improving irrigation efficiency –

4.1 A web-based tool has been developed that interrogates the Smap database to locate the required sibling and automatically provide a soil file for APSIM modelling.

4.2 The APSIM model has been developed for cost−benefit analysis of spatial and temporal variations of irrigation scheduling.

4.3 The APSIM model has been developed to predict water loss, storage and drainage in structured and (for example) water repellent soils.


Milestones: On schedule