A Western Australian study is trying to put a dollar figure on the worth of water by calculating the economic returns for every megalitre used for irrigation. The new study in Manjimup aims to support farmers to use data to make decisions about water use and irrigation, as well as to demonstrate the value that irrigation generates for farmers and the regional economy.
The three-year project targets avocado, apple, wine grape, stone fruit, vegetable and truffle farms, which make up about 90 per cent of horticultural production in the Warren-Donnelly catchment.
According to an article on goodfruitandvegetables.com.au, researchers will install digital water flow meters and soil moisture probes on multiple blocks of each produce type, measuring how much water is being used in real time. Participating farmers will be able to see, via an online dashboard, their daily water use and soil moisture. They will also be able to compare their irrigation with cumulative evaporation over the season and see data on recent and forecasted rainfall.
Growers will then be able to see their water data and how their block performed compared with other de-identified farmers in their group. The Food Agility CRC project is led by Curtin University.