Optimising delivery and benefits of aerated irrigation water
We have shown in a number of annual crops that by simply creating air bubbles in drip irrigation systems we can significantly increase crop yield and quality, overcoming root oxygen starvation caused by irrigation. We will trial this practice [we call it oxygation] on perennial species in growers’ fields firstly in Queensland, and then halfway through the project in NSW and SA, to improve yield and yield per unit of water use.
Intensive monitoring of plant and soil response to oxygation will take place; research sites will backstop field days for communication purposes. The project activities will lead to development of a training manual and subsequently a simple decision support system to favour adoption of oxygation.
Mazzie air injector installed in pumping system on John Cranny’s pineapple farm at Yeppoon, Qld.
Over the next six months the project will:
- Visit seven field sites in QLD - Valley Syndicate for Pineapple -Yeppoon, Higham Brothers for Fig- South Yamba, Australian Agricultural College Corporation for Grapes-Emerald, Pearmine farm for Grapes- Emerald, Kim Mob’s farm Biloela for Lucerne, Crop Management Australia for vegetable and sugarcane-Bundaberg, and Fred Barnio’s farm for stone fruits and The summit - for detailed discussion with industry partners on selection of sites, plots, crop, and projects implementation (October-November, 2008).
- Develop contacts for communication with consultants, irrigation suppliers and local DPI&F of each individual industry partners (November-December, 2008).
- Conduct planning workshop involving all industry partners, and associated consultants, irrigation suppliers, and local DPI&F collaborators( first week of December, 2008).
- Prepare flyer about oxygation, info sheets, detailed trial plans and other information as start up information kit to the industry partners and their associates (December, 2008- January, 2009 ).
- Procure air injections systems, tool and equipments and other materials required for the project (November- December, 2008).
- Install oxygation system, water metering in all collaborators field sites (January- March, 2009).
- Install soil moisture monitoring system, solution sampling cups at different depths, and monitoring facilites of soil, water and plants (February-June, 2008).
- Collect data on meteorological, soil, water, crop, market parameters and industries feedbacks (March, 2009 onward..)
This proposal addresses all three Research Themes of the NPSI.
There are six key research objectives that will lead into the development of improved practices and industry outcomes revolving around ‘judicious use of water’:
- To determine, through in-field trials, whether there are yield and water use efficiencies to be gained with the introduction of oxygation (using venturi, Oxysolver, Seair or fertilizer peroxides) into irrigated annual and perennial cropping.
- If so, to optimise the delivery specifications for water/air[oxygen]/nutrient ratios for different soil types, and to develop a simple decision support system to allow for implementation by growers.
- To extend the use of ‘waste’ water for irrigated cropping, while accounting for salinity and elevated Biological and Chemical Oxygen Demand, through oxygation, for we have shown oxygation to reduce negative effects of saline irrigation.
- To ensure that there is no adverse effect of oxygation on quantity and quality of soil carbon, or on soil structure.
- To quantify the effects of oxygation with the ‘Oxysolver’ and ‘Seair’ for furrow-irrigated cropping.
- To add to the knowledge base on plant physiological response to oxygation, particularly in perennial species.
In general as water resources decrease and water costs increase farmers are looking to irrigation methods that are more sustainable. The general public is also looking to farmers to improve upon their water use efficiency. Drip irrigation is seen as a potential solution to this problem, but it has its own problems, not least of which are the high set up costs. It also has other problems that we have identified in terms of constraining root access to oxygen.
ProgramNational Program for Sustainable Irrigation
- Irrigation (442)