Water Journal : Current November 2017
55 www.awa.asn.au the structure and chemistry of the soils and how that might impact water management. "The results of this research can help farmers make decisions around how much water to apply to particular soils, so they're not over-watering and causing potential waterlogging or runoff." Stronach said there are many tangible examples of data being used to help farmers improve crops yields and reduce water usage. "A lot of farmers, when they run irrigators, are not sure what size pump they should be using. Often they will go for the biggest pump, but that's not always the right thing. "By consulting with farmers, collecting the data and doing the research, we can determine what pump size is required and that makes a big different to their water and energy consumption." BROAD APPLICATIONS Stronach is confident universities can play a much bigger role in sustainably supporting the agriculture and water industries. "If you've got the right data and can interpret it, you can help farmers improve decision-making. We showed that a community better regulates water usage when they have the right data than would happen in the usual regulatory environment," he said. Hinton hopes the findings of the Water for Profit program can be extrapolated and used around the world. "The learnings and technologies we're developing as part of this project are transferrable globally: anywhere there is soil and water being used to grow crops," Hinton said. "We're getting incredibly positive feedback on the benefits of being involved in the program. A lot of the producers are getting a greater understanding of the soil water monitoring tools that are available, and they are able to work out what's the best instrument for them to put into practice to help them with irrigation scheduling and decision-making around water use." The Water for Profit program is led by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, with funding from the Tasmanian Government and support from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. ACADEMICS WOULD GO OFF AND DO THEIR RESEARCH IN ISOLATION. THAT COULD TAKE TWO OR THREE YEARS TO PROVE THE RESULTS. JAMES STRONACH, TIA Sue Hinton is an industry development and extension officer at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and leads the Water for Profit program. She is an experienced agronomist. James Stronach is the deputy director of strategy and engagement for the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. James has a strong commercial background, with expertise in finance, human resources and strategy.
Current August 2017