CSIRO and Goanna Ag team up to improve crop water usage using smart sensors

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In an attempt to help farmers better comprehend how to harness the potential of irrigation water to grow crops, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and Queensland-based Goanna Ag have collaborated to use sensors and analytics.

Under the partnership, CSIRO-made WaterWise technology will be incorporated by Goanna Ag into its existing GoField irrigation management system.

Prior to the collaboration, trials of Goanna Ag’s canopy sensor were conducted in CSIRO’s tomato fields in Victoria.

It is to be noted here that the WaterWise system is equipped with in-field sensors to measure the canopy temperature of crops every 15 minutes.

The data collected is then combined with weather forecasts before applying the concept of machine learning to predict the crop’s water requirements for the next week.

“Being able to predict when to irrigate will allow farmers to plan based on what the plant needs,” Goanna Ag CEO Alicia Garden said.

Just like human beings, plants too have an optimum temperature. When things are normal, it is extremely easy to predict when a plant will need water. But when conditions change, farmers want backup with their decision making, Waterwise team leader Rose Brodrick said.

“This is where using high tech can help give them data and more confidence in their decision making, because every drop counts,” she added.

According to Goanna Ag, the system that incorporates WaterWise would be commercially available soon the 2020 summer cropping season.

Meanwhile, CSIRO is planning to expand WaterWise’s in-field based canopy sensors to drones and satellites.