Site-specific irrigation using automated control and machine vision for horticulture crops in Queensland and New Zealand

Alison McCarthy1, Ahmed El-Naggar2, Pierre Roudier2 and Carolyn Hedley2

1 National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba QLD 4350,

2 Landcare Research New Zealand, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand


The spatial variability in soil properties across irrigated broadacre fields in Australia can be up to 500%. Currently irrigation for these fields is typically applied uniformly. Manual monitoring and processing soil moisture and crop measurements to implement site-specific irrigation and optimise water productivity is labour-intensive and expensive. A control system which automatically determines and delivers irrigation and fertiliser requirements has been developed to identify spatial irrigation requirements, and only apply water when and where it is needed. This system consists of: (i) sensors that measure weather, soil and plant response; (ii) a control system that automatically analyses the sensor data and determines irrigation and fertiliser requirements; and (iii) actuation hardware that applies site-specific irrigation and fertiliser requirements. This paper details the evaluation of irrigation control strategies in horticulture crops for centre pivot irrigation sites in Kalbar, Queensland and Palmerston North, New Zealand.



The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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