Putting real-time water usage data into the hands of farmers in Manjimup, WA, to enable accurate assessment of the economic value of water for irrigation to agribusinesses and to the community.
Access to water for irrigation in many regional areas is limited and under pressure from climate change. It is not possible to establish the value of water to industry and the community without accurate data on water use and financial returns. This lack of data limits the capacity for horticultural businesses to plan for future growth and justify investment in water use efficiency.
The project will provide reliable, independent data on water demand in the Warren-Donnelly catchment in south-west Western Australia. With 30 participating farms covering the avocado, apple, wine grape, stone fruit and truffle farm businesses, it will be delivered in three stages:
1. Water Flow Sensors & Online Dashboard: near real-time data from sensors and display of irrigation events, soil moisture, and forecasted weather will be made available to farmers via an online Swan Systems dashboard. Farmers will be able to see how their seasonal water productivity ($/ML) compares to other farms, growing the same crop, in the region.
2. Scaling up: the on-farm water data will then be aggregated with planted area and other available data to calculate water demand across the catchment.
3.Broader Benefits: Researchers from Curtin University will develop a model to calculate how the value of water translates into flow-on social, economic and community benefits for the region.