University of Southern Queensland

The University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Institute for Agriculture and the Environment (IAgE) through our world-class research centres offers research expertise in irrigation and water management, climate science, policy development and governance reform. IAgE delivers applied practical and profitable research solutions that strengthen agricultural productivity and environmental management in Australia and overseas. IAgE’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) is recognised nationally as leaders in precision irrigation and water management. NCEA has developed a large portfolio of projects aimed at improving water use efficiency, improving sustainability and production of crops, assessing groundwater and surface water, improving groundwater geochemistry, aquifer contamination and remediation, monitoring and modelling groundwater and pollution, and development of systems to measure evaporation and seepage losses from dams. NCEA’s project experience is international and includes delivery of training direct to industry and training to international research organisations. IAgE?s International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (ICACS) is actively developing and using models which forecast likely changes in seasonal/weather patterns, in response to climate change and variability, and simulate the impact on water resources, agronomic production as well as human health. This research allows for better strategies for managing our environment and ability to quantify risks. For example, ICACS integrates climate forecast models into hydrological models to predict seasonal and long-term stream flow variability and integrates this information with irrigation water management decisions. ICACS is one of only two universities invited to participate in the UN Integrated Drought Management Program of the Global Water Partnership.

Organisational Capability

  • 1. Precision Irrigation – development of real-time systems for irrigation automation and control
    2. Decision support tools and knowledge management systems for improved water management
    3. Economically profitable and sustainable exploitation of groundwater and natural resources; farm and system
    level hydrological-economics modelling for water allocation;
    4. Control of evaporation and seepage losses from storage dams
    5. Climate change and climate variability’s impact on water resources
    6. Sustainable soil management in mining and agriculture for healthy waterways
    7. Delivery of irrigation and water management focussed training
    8. Climate modelling to evaluate variability and change on water availability
    9. Linking hydrological and climate models to forecast river and dam inflows
    10. Identifying the impact of various water, agricultural and climate policies

Projects

  • Smart Automated Irrigation
    This three year research project will deliver, demonstrate and evaluate smart automated, precision irrigation systems for the Cotton (pivot and furrow), Dairy (centre pivot) and Sugar (furrow) Industries. The prototype surface and overhead systems will be developed in close consultation with irrigators and technology suppliers. Engagement with commercial suppliers will use off the shelf technology where available and provide development of a pathway for future commercialisation.
  • Improving water use for dry season agriculture by marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains
    A four year project aiming to improve the livelihood of women, marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains, through improved water use and increased dry season agricultural production. This is a multi-million dollar project with 12 partners, including the International Water Management Institute.
  • Integrating soil and water management in vegetable production in Lao PDR and Cambodia
    A four year project focussing on the management of soil and water, for sustainable vegetable production in Lao PDR and Cambodia. (ACIAR $1.6m)
  • Technical support and knowledge management systems for irrigation management
    The NCEA has developed a suite of knowledge management systems and decision support tools that support better management of irrigation practices. Over the last 17 years NCEA has also provided technical support and training programs to irrigation farmers in Queensland.
  • Technological change in the Australian irrigation industry: Implications for future resource management and policy development
    This project explores the trade-offs between water savings, energy use and economic gain through the implementation of more water-efficient, but more energy intensive forms of irrigation technologies on-farm. Through a series of case studies and scenarios, the project demonstrates that converting to more water-efficient pressurised irrigation systems can result in significant water savings and economic returns. The project findings suggest that priority should be given to replacing older, inefficient and energy-intensive sprinkler irrigation systems such as hand shift and roll-line.
  • An in-depth analysis of impact of climate change on rainfall and river flows
    ICACS has conducted several climate and water integration projects, nationally and globally. Core projects evaluate the most suitable climate models using demerit based approaches, relevant to key regions of study, and downscaling and integration with hydrological models to generate rainfall and streamflow projections. Such rainfall and streamflow outlooks are valuable for targeted strategic investments in water resources, water allocation and policy level decisions.