By Sallese Gibson
Automated irrigation systems and drought-resistant crops are amongst planning measures put forward to Tasmanian farmers experiencing unseasonably dry situations.
The state has experienced its driest spring on record which has forced some farmers to sell livestock and lessen crop plantings.
One particular of the factors that we often see… is that men and women aren’t employing the [irrigation program] capacity very effectively.
TIA dairy group leader Lesley Irvine
At a forum in the state’s north-west the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) looked at methods for coping with low summer season rainfall.
TIA dairy team leader Lesley Irvine mentioned they wanted to aid farmers far better handle climate variability.
“We’ll be offering sensible tips on irrigation management in a dry summer season and how to get the ideal from your irrigation pump and sprinklers,” she stated.
Dr Joseph Foley from the University of Southern Queensland, who was a guest speaker at the occasion, mentioned there ought to be a focus on irrigation overall performance.
“One particular of the things that we frequently see … is that men and women are not using the [irrigation system] capacity quite properly,” he stated.
“They might only utilise two-thirds of that program capacity.
“One of the challenges is to make sure that the pivots are utilized fully by means of this hotter summer time period.
“That implies that it truly should be utilised to capacity and actually ought to be running far more or significantly less each day, all week, throughout these warmer months.”
Automated irrigation ‘improves water efficiency’
Researchers at the TIA are establishing an irrigation technique to enhance the way farmers use their water.
Project leader Dr James Hills stated the technique automatically irrigates pastures, based on data it collects.
“What we will be carrying out is putting sensors out in the field that’ll be measuring the soil moisture, the climatic variables temperature, rainfall and other factors and we’ll be getting sensors on our actual pivot, searching at water volume being employed,” he mentioned.
As soon as you get behind and it is really tough to catch up and that truly effects efficiency and productivity.
TIA project leader Dr James Hills
“We can [then] commence to appear at approaches to take the decision that is at present getting produced by farmers into an automatic program so that the program itself is producing decisions on what is the greatest application of water.
“It identifies exactly where the water needs to go, how much water wants to go on, when it needs to go on and then applies that in an automatic way.”
Dr Hills believes taking the decision-making away from farmers could lead to efficiency gains.
“At present, farmers make choices by seeking at their pastures … they’re possessing to make the choice to go out and to turn the irrigator on to apply that water,” he stated.
“What we’re trying to do is to develop a program that essentially identifies what is necessary and then does that automatically.
“A single of the massive issues is that farmers do not really know how significantly is acceptable … and so there is instances exactly where specific areas in your paddock may possibly be more than-watered, other places beneath-watered.
“[The technique] is really enabling the matching of your water to the specifications for those paddocks.”
He said he was confident it would boost farm management, specifically in dry circumstances.
“Farmers … require to consider about appropriately starting their irrigation at the correct time, [so] they’re not allowing the ground to dry out and they are creating positive they keep up with it,” he said.
“[It really is crucial] they don’t drop important productivity just by saying ‘I feel I will just skimp a tiny bit here’, due to the fact when you get behind and it’s quite challenging to catch up and that really impacts efficiency and productivity.”
The irrigation sensor method is in its very first year of a three-year trial period in Tasmania.
Trials aim to beat the heat
An additional trial project is using infrared heaters to test pasture species and irrigation strategies.
Project leader Adam Langworthy hopes to determine how diverse grass species respond to irrigation below specific temperatures.
“The project’s looking at how we can overcome the adverse affects of heatwaves over these dry periods,” he stated.
“To impose heatwave stress, we’ve been creating these infrared heater rings.
“It really is virtually like crop circles that we’re making with these heaters.
“We’ll be going through with diverse frequencies of irrigation to see if you’d invest in one thing like a centre pivot compared to a travelling irrigator, how you’d expect your grass to execute below these different frequencies of irrigation.”
Topics: irrigation, rural, agribusiness, tas