Research & Extension
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Increasing profitability from irrigated crops

Optimising farm scale returns from irrigated grains: maximising dollar return per megalitre of water

Given a limited availability of land, water for irrigation, crop requirements and grain prices, how do you choose which crop should be irrigated?

How much irrigation water should be applied, and on what area of land to maximise profits and minimise risks?

How can irrigation be applied over the whole-farm, accounting for variation in crop types and irrigation infrastructure across and between paddocks?

How does the type of irrigation system i.e. overhead laterals, pivots, flood irrigation, etc, affect crop gross margins and whole-farm profitability?

What is the risk or likelihood that the projected outcome will occur?

These questions are being addressed in a GRDC-funded project through co-development of a calculator (decision-support tool) called ‘WaterCan Profit’ for irrigation farmers and consultants.

WaterCan Profit has been built through discussions with growers in the Irrigation Groups and using results from the Research Trials conducted in the Optimising Irrigated Grains Initiative.

WaterCan Profit is a farmer-designed phone and web app that helps users identify land areas and water allocations to a range of irrigated and rainfed grain crops that maximise farm profits and minimise risks. The calculator also allows users to contrast long-term investment in irrigation infrastructure (e.g. centre pivot or flood-based irrigation).


Optimising Flowering to Improve Farm Profits | More than Modelling

Forecasting how optimal flowering windows and crop yields will be impacted by the variable climate, and what growers can do about it, has been unexplored – until now.

Using WaterCan Profit

The following short videos are designed to help you use WaterCan and demonstrates how the calculator can be used to help you make decisions on your farm business.

As water price increases, how does the profitability of different crops compare?

Given a fixed amount of irrigation water and variable grain and water prices, crop rotations, irrigation infrastructure and seasonal climatic outlook, what is the most profitable crop areas and irrigation rates across the whole farm?

How to contrast investments in alternative irrigation infrastructure, machinery and equipment using WaterCan Profit. The calculator outputs profitability (net present value), investment worth, payback time and internal rate of return.

Further Research

More Information

There is an abundance of research that can help you make well informed decisions about rotations and using water effectively.

Earlier crop flowering caused by global warming alleviated by irrigation

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Lack of Terminal Water or Heat Stress facilitates Later Optimal Flowering Periods for Barley in Australia

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Can seasonal soil N mineralisation trends be leveraged to enhance pasture growth?

Read more…


Application, adoption and opportunities for improving decision support systems in irrigated agriculture: A review

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Optimising use of limited irrigation water on grain crops – getting the biggest bang per megalitre

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Agronomic and on-farm infrastructure adaptations to manage economic risk in Australian irrigated broadacre systems: A case study

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New frontiers in understanding and modeling waterlogging impacts on plants

Read more…

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Use WaterCan Profit

You can access the WaterCan Profit calculator
to run scenarios on your own farm businesses.
Project Partners Long

The optimising irrigated grains projects are part of the GRDC investment in ICF1906-002RTX: Facilitated action learning groups to support profitable irrigated farming systems in the northern and southern regions, FAR1906-003RTX: Development and validation of soil amelioration and agronomic practices to realise the genetic potential of grain crops grown under a high yield potential, irrigated environment in the northern and southern regions and UOT1906-002RTX: Optimising farm scale returns from irrigated grains: maximising dollar return per megalitre of water.