Laptop-controlled irrigation revolutionizing farming

laptopEfficient management of water in some of the driest, most drought affected farming areas in NSW has reached a new world standard thanks to automated ordering systems that allow irrigation farmers to control water delivery at the touch of a keypad.

Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL) is a co-operative business that manages infrastructure, systems and services for delivering water to and from more than 450 farms in the NSW Riverina region.

The CICL sources its water from the Murrumbidgee river, through an open channel system whose main canal can flow at up to 6000 megaliters a day. The majority of farms it services are 200 hectare farms growing large area crops such as rice, sorghum, soy beans, maize, wheat and barley.

The CICL system delivers water to farms through some 700km of channels, driven emission free by gravity. The farms that CICL services have suffered their worst two years on record for water allocations, and have endured severe drought conditions since the turn of the century.

the cropsBut an automated water management system from Rubicon Systems, rolled out in 2003 and due for completion next year, is helping to turn the tide in the farmer’s favor when it comes to efficient delivery and use of water.

There are about 700 outlets in the CICL system, 100 of which are automated FlumeGates that, upon receiving an order for water via a farmer’s computer, can deliver precisely the amount of water required without any human interaction, and in a fraction of the time it would take under manual control.

CICL’s senior operations engineer, Austin Evans, said the automated outlets can deliver higher flow rates which help the farmers water their farms more efficiently. They can get their water on quickly or turn it off from their laptops, improving their field efficiency. Read more on this article.

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