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The challenge

Trusting irrigation data versus going with your gut feel

Irrigation management relies on farmers taking many things into account. Timing, for example, is critical to maximise crop yield and quality.

A WaterWise sensor in tomatoes

Successful managers do this well, but often need to rely on experience rather than definitive data to make their decisions. Differences in soil type, regional climate, water availability, system capacity, attitude to risk and the amount of data collected means that irrigation management has to be tailored and responsive.

Decisions can be even more difficult when the situation is considerably different from normal, such as with extreme weather events.

Our response

Harnessing the digital revolution for irrigation decisions

Recent improvements in wireless sensor technology and advanced data analytics mean we can use plant- and soil-based sensors to continually monitor crops and soils providing information like never before.

We've already led ground-breaking research in plant-based sensing technologies to improve yield and water use efficiency in Australian cotton. The system uses proximal (single location in the field) continuous canopy temperature measurement and offers growers a simple means of identifying crop stress.

In conjunction with existing soil moisture measurements, WaterWise can offer significantly refined irrigation scheduling decisions in a range of high value crops.

The results

WaterWise meeting industry needs

Our platform provides irrigation decision making based on both monitored and forecast crop water stress status. It incorporates advanced data analytics, spatial sensing systems, weather forecasts, and novel physiology research in crop biochemistry.

Goanna Ag are our first commercial partner and bringing the WaterWise technology to irrigators in Australia and the US. Goanna Ag, who produce agricultural sensing systems for water-use efficiency, are delivering WaterWise’s smart analytics as a data stream to their on-farm customers, incorporated into their existing GoField system.

We commissioned an independent economic evaluation of WaterWise’s potential impact in the irrigated agricultural sector. It found the WaterWise tech could return a whopping $1 billion to Australian agriculture by 2030.

The system could save one million swimming pools of water and the equivalent in CO2 emissions as taking 336,000 cars off the road for a year or turning off 186,000 households’ energy for a year.


WaterWise could bring a whopping $1 billion to Australian agriculture by 2030.

[Image shows a field of plants with a woman holding a high tech looking metal tube with a small solar panel at one end]
Imagine you’re trying to survive on 12mm of water a day. That’s what these commercial tomato are given even in the middle of summer.
What we’re trying to do is see if we can reduce this amount of water to ten, eight or even six mm of water a day. We’re using sensors, the weather forecasts and smart analytics to save water and still produce the perfect tomato.
[Image changes to show a cursor moving around a website and clicking on links to show heat and canopy temperature over several days]
Using WaterWise, for the first time, grows can see in real time the water stress of their crop today and are now able to predict their crops’ future water needs. That’s the real breakthrough science.
[Image changes to show a woman bending down running her hands through plants and looking at the soil]
Just like humans, plants have an optimum temperature so we’re using temperature canopy sensors to directly measure the plant, which then tells us how stressed it is and how much water it needs.
[Image changes to show a man and a woman placing the metal tube on a pole in the crop]
Using our WaterWise app, growers can time irrigations to keep the plant in its optimum range.
[Image shows a field of plants with a woman holding a high tech looking metal tube with a small solar panel at one end]
Together with our grower partners, we’re currently testing our WaterWise system in high value commercial crops.
[Image changes to show CSIRO logo. Music plays. Text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

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