New tech to maximise every water drop

New tech to maximise every water drop

Cropping News
CSIRO's Rose Brodrick with a prototype WaterWise sensor in tomatoes. Photo by CSIRO.

CSIRO's Rose Brodrick with a prototype WaterWise sensor in tomatoes. Photo by CSIRO.

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It is hoped the tech will help growers to save water or produce more crop per drop.

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SENSORS and analytics will be combined to maximise every drop of irrigation water used to grow crops as part of a new partnership between CSIRO and the Queensland-based agtech company, Goanna Ag.

WaterWise is a CSIRO-developed technology and is the only water-use efficiency product for irrigated crops that measures crop water stress and predicts future water needs in real time.

Under the partnership, Goanna Ag, which produces agricultural sensing systems for water-use efficiency, will be delivering WaterWise's smart analytics as a data stream to their on-farm customers.

It is hoped the tech will help growers to save water or produce more crop per drop.

Goanna Ag chief executive officer Alicia Garden said that for the company and its customers, being involved in this innovation means they can access new, Australian-made, science-based technology and incorporate it into their existing GoField system.

"Being able to predict when to irrigate will allow our clients - farmers - to plan based on what the plant needs," Ms Garden said.

The WaterWise system uses in-field sensors that measure the canopy temperature of crops every 15 minute and then sends the data to CSIRO's sensor data infrastructure.

It adds in the weather forecast and uses machine learning to apply CSIRO's unique algorithm to predict the crop's water requirements for the next seven days.

Goanna Ag's canopy sensor in CSIRO tomato trials in Victoria. Photo by Goanna Ag.

Goanna Ag's canopy sensor in CSIRO tomato trials in Victoria. Photo by Goanna Ag.

WaterWise team leader Rose Brodrick said that predicting the future was the real breakthrough science.

"It means for the first time, growers can see the water stress of their crops at any point and predict their future water needs," Dr Brodrick said.

"Just like humans, plants have an optimum temperature, when things are normal it's easier to predict when a plant will need water.

"But when conditions change - like with a new crop, a new field, or unusually hot or cold weather forecasted - farmers want backup with their decision-making."

While the usual strategy is for growers to add water if they're unsure, this new tech can instead help give them data and more confidence in their decision-making

The next steps for WaterWise are to take it from in-field based canopy sensors to drones or satellites.

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