Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Phase 1

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Phase one of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project was supported by funding from the Australian Government's then Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (now Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment) as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, round one.

Led by CRDC in partnership with fellow RDCs Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia and AgriFutures Australia, the project aimed to improve the profit of cotton, dairy, rice and sugar irrigators. The project was a collaborative project, delivered with the support of 16 research and development partners and 19 farmer irrigation technology learning sites.

Grower-led irrigation research and extension aimed to collect commercially relevant comparative data on different irrigation systems and technologies. The intention was to provide growers improved understanding of the implications for capital investment, management and the resource requirements (water, energy and labour) associated with different irrigation systems and the adoption of automation technology and different approaches to farming systems.

The project consisted of three core components:

  1. Practical, reliable irrigation scheduling technologies
  2. Precise, low cost automated control systems for a range of irrigation systems
  3. A network of 19 farmer managed learning sites located around Australia.


The project found participating farmers from the dairy, cotton, sugar and rice industries could achieve a 10-20 percent improvement in water productivity through adoption of new and existing precision irrigation technologies. The project also identified significant energy savings which also enhanced profitability.

These summary reports outline the achievements of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project. 

  1. Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Snapshot 
  2. Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Case Studies 
  3. Smarter Irrigation for Profit - Final Report


Research projects funded as part of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project are listed below:

  1. Irrigation scheduling technologies (plant, soil, weather) - Mike Morris, DEDTJR; 
  2. Irrigation cotton agronomy for tailored and responsive management with limited water - Dr Hizbullah Jamali and Dr Michael Bange, CSIRO; 
  3. Smart Automated Broad-acre Irrigation - Dr Joseph Foley, Dr Malcolm Gillies, Dr Alison McCarthy, University of Southern Queensland 
  4. Smart automated irrigation: Increasing farm profit through efficient use of irrigation for dairy farms - Dr James Hills, University of Tasmania  
  5. Maximising on-farm irrigation profitability, Peter Regan, NSW DPI
  6. Grower led irrigation system research in the Gwydir Valley 2009-2018 - Lou Gall, Gwydir Valley Irrigation Association
  7. Optimised Dairy Irrigation Farms - Monique White, Dairy Australia
  8. Smarter Irrigation: Educating growers in innovative on-farm water management and scheduling practices - Andres Jaramillo, Sugar Research Australia 

Research partners:

The project was a partnership between the major irrigation industries of cotton, dairy, rice and sugar, led by CRDC in conjunction with Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia and AgriFutures Australia. Addition research partners includied: CSIRO, NSW DPI, USQ, TIA, SARDI, DEDTJR Victoria and other industry organisations. The project was supported by funding from the (then) Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Rural Research and Development for Profit program.

For Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase 2, click here