Smarter Irrigation For Profit Sessions

Date: 5th - 6th October 2022

Smarter Irrigation for Profit is a partnership between the irrigation industries of sugar, cotton, grains, dairy and rice, research organisations and farmer groups. The objective of SIP2 is to improve the profit of over 4,000 irrigators. It has 14 sub-projects covering three main components:

  • Development of new irrigation technologies including new sensors, advanced analytics to improve irrigation scheduling and strategies to reduce water storage evaporation.
  • Cost effective, practical automated irrigation systems for cotton, rice, sugar and dairy.
  • Closing the irrigation productivity yield gap for cotton, rice, dairy, sugar and grains irrigators through a network of 46 farmer led optimised irrigation sites and key learning sites located on commercial farms across Australia.

Improving knowledge and skills of irrigation service providers in the sugarcane industry

Michael Scobie - Senior Reseach Engineer, University Of Southern Queensland

Michael Scobie is a research engineer at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. Michael has qualifications in both science and engineering from USQ and has 20 years of water and irrigation related experience in both research and consulting capacities. Michael’s research at USQ is focused on water and energy use efficiency. He has a broad base of experience, working across Australia, the UK, the US, and seven south and southeast Asian countries. Today he will talk about developing a program of skills development in the Australian Sugarcane industry.

What’s my yield gap? Improving water productivity in dairy systems

Cath Lescun - National Lead - Soils And Irrigation, Dairy Australia

Cath Lescun is the Lead for Soils and Irrigation at Dairy Australia and is the project leader of the Dairy Australia project What’s my yield gap? Improving water productivity - a sub project of the Smarter Irrigation for Profit 2 program. Vast experience in soil nutrient management, pasture and crop production, and grazing management in extensive and dairy systems Cath utilises this knowledge and experience to lead this SIP2 project to deliver water productivity improvements resulting in increased farm business performance across the dairy industry.

Delegate Registrations

Attendance at this half-day program is available for all conference delegates who register for the conference via either the Australia / NZ registration site or the International site. Registration also includes entry to the large exhibition which will be open from 5 to 7 October at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Beyond water smart. Optimising irrigation for pasture production on Tasmanian dairy farms

James Hills, Senior Research Fellow TIA

Dr James Hills is a Senior Research Fellow and the Livestock Production Centre Leader at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. He currently leads a team of researchers focusing on research in the areas of feedbase, animal nutrition and precision agriculture and new technologies relevant to temperate pasture-based dairy systems. He has a particular interest in variability in farming systems and the use of technology for measuring and managing this variability to improve the efficiency and sustainability of production..

Improving energy efficiencies an important opportunity for south west Victorian irrigation

Graeme Ward, Project Officer Consultant, Dairy Australia

Graeme was the site co-ordinator of the south west Victorian optimisation site of the Dairy Australia “What’s my yield gap – Maximising water productivity in dairy systems” component of the “Smarter Irrigation for Profit 2” program. He was initially a Pastures Extension Officer and then a Dairy Research Officer for Agriculture Victoria specialising in soil, water and nutrient research for the dairy industry in south west Victoria from 1981 to 2015. Graeme conducted the early research in the 1990’s to establish irrigation scheduling guidelines for south west Victoria. During his time with Agriculture Victoria he also conducted a range of research projects including wet soil management, utilisation of dairy effluent, forage cropping, nitrogen fertiliser and reducing nitrous oxide emissions from dairy farms. After leaving Agriculture Victoria he undertook a variety of extension, advisory and industry development roles in the Natural Resource Management area for Dairy Australia and research roles with the University of Melbourne.

Machine vision tools for Smarter Irrigation of dairy pasture and cotton

Dr Alison McCarthy - Senior Research Fellow, University Of Southern Queensland

Dr Alison McCarthy is a Senior Research Fellow in irrigation and cropping systems within the Centre for Agricultural Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland. Her key research activities are automating irrigation to improve water productivity using sensors and optimisation algorithms and reducing labour for in-crop scouting using crop monitoring machine vision systems. Alison received the 2021 International Commission on Irrigation & Draining WatSave Young Professionals Award and was a co-recipient of the 2018 Cotton Seed Distributors Researcher of the Year Award.

Smarter irrigation grower-led cotton automation

Louise Gall, Project Officer, Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association

Louise is the Project Officer with the Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA), where she manages the Grower-led Irrigation Research. For over 30 years Louise has worked in Australian agricultural across many industry segments; including cotton, broadacre cropping, sugarcane and horticulture. During this time, she has been involved in research, product development, sales and marketing. Like so many other professional women Louise chooses to work in regional Australia where businesses are innovative and practical. The irrigation research with the GVIA enables Louise to work with irrigators who strive to be as efficient as they can with the limited resources available to them. Additional to managing projects with the GVIA Louise runs her own business Ace Regional Marketing which supports regional businesses in the development and implementation of business and communication plans. Louise has a Batchelor of Rural Science and a Master of Business Administration majoring in Agribusiness and Marketing.

SISCOweb and the next generation of IrriMATE

Dr Malcolm Gillies, Senior Research Fellow, University Of Southern Queensland

Doctor Malcolm Gillies is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Agricultural Engineering and a Lecturer in Hydraulics at the University of Southern Queensland. Malcolm’s research interests are centred on irrigated agriculture and application of fluid mechanics principles to describe the behaviour of these systems. His research has involved the development of several simulation models to evaluate irrigation performance which have been applied in the Cotton, Sugar and Dairy Industries. More recently his research has focused around the automation of surface irrigation systems. Malcolm teaches Engineering Hydraulics, Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Science within the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences at USQ.

Investigating machine learning algorithms to forecast soil matric potential in cotton crops

Dr Hizbullah Jamali, Research Scientist, CSIRO

Dr Hizbullah Jamali is a research scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food with skills in digital crop sensing technologies, agronomy, and the quantification of greenhouse gas exchange in managed and natural ecosystems. Dr Jamali is leading the Smarter Irrigation for Profit project funded through the Rural R&D for Profit program. This project is delivering the canopy temperature technology to the Australian cotton industry as an irrigation scheduling tool in partnership with the private sector. His research explores the utility of plant-based sensing tools including canopy temperature, thermal imaging, and UAVs to inform agronomic decision making in different crops.

Microgrids – sharing energy between farms

Dr Rodrigo Filev Maia, Senior Researcher, Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CeRRF), Deakin University

Rodrigo Filev Maia, PhD. Senior Researcher in Deakin University (Australia) since 2019 working with Internet of Things and Machine Learning applied in commercial-scale irrigation automation. He participated in several international projects as coordinator and researcher such as SWAMP (Smart Water Management Platform – Horizon 2020), Sensing Change (Frontiers in Engineering). As an entrepreneur was the head of a startup company responsible for innovation in network and security for mission-critical systems. It was also responsible for the negotiations that conducted the company to integrate an international European group of network consulting. As a professor, he was the head of the Laboratory of Innovation in IoT in a partnership with Telefonica Vivo and FEI Uni. Research interests include machine learning, complex systems, and irrigation, and his personal interests include STEM education and innovation for community development.

Automated gravity surface irrigation as an enabling technology for aerobic rice production in Southern Australia

Mr Matt Champness, PhD Candidate Deakin University

Matt is undertaking a PhD to identify the key soil, water and crop sensing parameters for the proper implementation of automated gravity surface irrigation systems in water saving rice systems for southern Australia. This research through Deakin University based in Griffith NSW is aiming to use smart irrigation technology to reduce labour and water use in rice systems. Prior to moving to Griffith to commence his PhD, Matt worked as a volunteer agronomist in Lao PDR. His work focussed on increasing farmer and local government staff knowledge of weed control in drill sown rice and engineering solutions for mechanical weed control in direct seeded rice. Matt is passionate about international agricultural development and delivering real world solutions to farmers in both developed and developing nations whilst also improving social perception of agriculture.

Assessment of evaporation mitigating solutions for Australian cotton water storages

Prof. Greg Qiao, The University Of Melbourne

Greg Qiao is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean (Research Training) in the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology. The research interests of Greg Qiao are in synthetic polymer chemistry and their applications. The key research areas are in novel macromolecular architectures, new activation methods for RAFT process, structurally nanoengineered antibacterial peptide polymers (SNAPPs), Peptide eco polymers as alternative plastics, soft tissue engineering scaffolds especially on synthetic cornea, polymeric gas membranes, and chemical engineering products. Prof Qiao was an Australian Research Council’s Future Fellow (2012-2015). He is a Fellow of RACI and RSC. Prof Qiao was the Chair of Polymer Division of the RACI (2015-2016) and a member of ARC College of Experts (2016-2018). Prof Qiao received RACI Applied Research Award in 2017, ExxonMobil Award of Excellence for Chemical Engineering in 2015, RACI’s Polymer Division Citation in 2011& 2019 and Freehills Award in 2010.

Cost benefit analysis of automated furrow irrigation in the Australian sugar industry

Dr Malcolm Gillies, Senior Research Fellow, University Of Southern Queensland

Doctor Malcolm Gillies is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Agricultural Engineering and a Lecturer in Hydraulics at the University of Southern Queensland. Malcolm’s research interests are centred on irrigated agriculture and application of fluid mechanics principles to describe the behaviour of these systems. His research has involved the development of several simulation models to evaluate irrigation performance which have been applied in the Cotton, Sugar and Dairy Industries. More recently his research has focused around the automation of surface irrigation systems. Malcolm teaches Engineering Hydraulics, Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Science within the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences at USQ.

Irrigation at RFC: the start of a continuous improvement program

Bryan Granshaw

Bryan Granshaw originally a 4th generation farmer until 2015, (30 years) during that time my family and I developed a profitable irrigated sugarcane farming business. Granshaw Farming was privileged to be nominated for and win the 2010 National Farmers Federation Innovative Farmers of the Year , for our use of technology to create a sustainable sugarcane production system. He was also fortunate to be granted the first Nuffield Australia Farming Scholarship sponsored by the Australian Sugar Industry in 2012. From 2015 -2000 worked for an multi-national ag tech company (Trimble) with high resolution soil data and GIS platforms enabling farmers to utilise Ag Tech on farm with spatially identified, practical measurable outcomes, to improve previously undiagnosed productivity limitations, with the ability to treat specific issues in geographically correct positions in paddocks, reducing costs whilst focusing in on problem areas. Currently working with RFC as Technology Supervisor , with one of the first major projects to investigate more efficient non productivity limiting furrow irrigation management, encompassing in field paddock sensors , whole of system irrigation automation.

Irrigation at RFC: The start of a continuous improvement program

Cherrie Stockham, Visitor To USQ University Of Southern Queensland

Delegate Registrations

Attendance at this half-day program is available for all conference delegates who register for the conference via either the Australia / NZ registration site or the International site. Registration also includes entry to the large exhibition which will be open from 5 to 7 October at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Whole-farm automation of surface irrigation on dairy farms in northern Victoria

Dr Amjed Hussain, Research Scientist, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Victoria

Amjed Hussain is working as a Research Scientist in the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Victoria, Australia. He received his PhD from University of Southern Queensland. He was previously involved with the research investigating the sustainable use of surface and groundwater resources and improving crop water use efficiency. He also undertook subsurface drip irrigation, soil salinity and on-farm water channel performance research. He is currently working on the project that aims to manage irrigation of a large number of bays automatically.

Maximising pasture productivity through enhanced irrigation management

Sam Taylor, Project Officer, Western Dairy

With over 20 years of agronomy experience across Broadacre, Horticultural and Pasture production systems, Sam Taylor integrates this experience into the delivery of Western Australia component of the What’s My yield gap? Improving water productivity, a sub project of Smarter Irrigation for Profit program. A crop productivity focussed agronomist, emphasising sustainable crop protection and nutrition strategies, Sam is a highly motivated and organised team oriented individual, with excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Environmental consequences of replacing NSW dairy with plant-based equivalents

Dr Aaron Simmons, Technical Specialist, NSW Dpi

Dr Simmons is a Technical Specialist in the Climate Branch of NSW DPI. He specialises in using consequential life cycle assessment to assess the environmental consequences of changes to agricultural production systems.