Cost effective irrigation plan in North

Automated irrigation on cane farms in North Queensland

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Automated irrigation on cane farms in the North can save both money and nutrient run off.

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Horseshoe Lagoon cane grower Andrew Cross inspects some of the automated irrigation infrastructure on Russell Jordan's Upper Haughton cane farm.

Horseshoe Lagoon cane grower Andrew Cross inspects some of the automated irrigation infrastructure on Russell Jordan's Upper Haughton cane farm.

THE benefits of automated irrigation on cane farms was the focus of a workshop conducted in the Burdekin region recently.

About 30 growers attended the workshop on Russell Jordan’s Upper Haughton River farm.

NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer Lisa Pulman, who facilitated the workshop, said irrigation was one of the major costs of growing cane in the Burdekin.

“It’s important for farmers to get the right amount of water to their cane,” Ms Pullman said.

“Pumping too much water directly impacts their bottom line, but it can also adversely affect the environment, particularly local wetlands.”

She said automated irrigation could help farmers improve their water use efficiency by taking the guesswork out of matching irrigation to soil types, and farm conditions.

Automated irrigation expert Steve Attard from Agritech Solutions said the technology was as much about lifestyle as it was about economics.

“Sometimes, the correct time to turn off an irrigation set is at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Mr Attard said.

“That’s no life.”

Burdekin cane growers Steve Pilla, Michael Minuzzo, and Russell Jordan at the Automated Irrigation shed meet at Russell's Upper Haughton farm.

Burdekin cane growers Steve Pilla, Michael Minuzzo, and Russell Jordan at the Automated Irrigation shed meet at Russell's Upper Haughton farm.

Horseshoe Lagoon cane farmer Steve Pilla is taking his first steps towards fully automating irrigation on this 200 hectares and said the process had been streamlined in recent years.

“It’s more cost-effective and looks quite simple to use now,” Mr Pilla said.

Andrew Cross, who manages 720 hectares of irrigated crops including cane at MH Premium Farms, Horseshoe Lagoon, said he was particularly interested in the benefits to the bottom line in his operation.

“The added benefit of an automated system positively influencing the health of the local lagoon system and therefore, the quality of water reaching the Great Barrier Reef was a bonus,” Mr Cross said.

Project Officer Shakira Todd, who manages the Repeated Tenders project, said the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss how automation could assist growers to be more efficient in their use of applied nutrients.

The workshop was co-funded by the Repeated Tenders - Burdekin project through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Connecting Burdekin Cane Farmer To Their Local Wetlands Project through the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program.

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