The Department of Natural Resources & Mines has provided the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) with a $89,190 funding boost to further its research into water and energy use efficiency on Queensland farms.
Researchers at USQ’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) will use the funding to develop and promote technologies which will assist irrigators with scheduling and water management.
NCEA Deputy Director Mr Erik Schmidt said the program was part of an ongoing research program looking at rural water use efficiency.
“The next step is to develop calculation tools, accessible on smart phones and other mobile devices, that allow irrigation farmers to maximise their productivity and manage their water resources,” he said in a media release issued by the USQ.
“We’re going to be working with these farmers and their industry advisors to help them better understand their systems for better crop production and water management.”
Mr Schmidt said this was an important area of research that will have significant benefits to producers.
“Scheduling irrigations to match volume of water applied with the crop water requirement has been identified as a very simple method for reducing water loss through over-irrigation and for reducing energy wasted in pumping more water than necessary. We will also be adding in Augmented Reality features to enhance the user interface of our Scheduling Irrigation Diary tool,” he said.
“We plan to profile at least 30 irrigation farms in the horticulture, sugarcane, and dairy industries to assess their system capacity and managed system capacity. This will give us a better understanding of how widespread the issues of undersized or undermanaged irrigation systems are.”
Mr Schmidt said the project matched USQ’s Institute for Agriculture and the Environment focus on delivering research solutions that strengthened agricultural productivity and environmental management.
“It is also aligned with NCEA’s research in terms of fostering an improved sustainable and profitable rural sector in areas such as water resources,” he said.
“I’d like to acknowledge the funding from the Rural Water Use Efficiency- Irrigation Futures program and the great work of key staff members working on this project including Senior Research Engineer (Irrigation and Water Engineering) Mr Michael Scobie, Software Developer Ms Lidya Agustina and Research Scientist/Engineer Dr Jochen Eberhard.”
For more information about the Institute for Agriculture and the Environment, National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture and other research at USQ, visit www.usq.edu.au/research.