NORTHAM grains research has benefited from a new mobile irrigator allowing researchers to tailor rainfall conditions to when water was required rather than relying on rainfall.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development invested $240,000 into five mobile irrigators for Western Australian grains research field trials at Northam, Geraldton, Esperance, Merredin, Wongan Hills and Katanning.
Department field research services manager Ian Pritchard said the mobile machines were already in use across the department’s research facilities.
“The equipment enables department researchers to tailor rainfall conditions to when water is needed, rather than relying on what ‘Mother Nature’ has to offer,” he said.
“This control will greatly enhance the department’s grains field research capability by providing greater quality, depth and integrity in the data across a range of activities, such as time of sowing and foliar disease trials.
“Researchers are particularly excited about the ability to create trial environments for early sowing scenarios and investigations into heat stress at the end of the season, which require well-watered treatments and soil water uniformity.”
The mobile irrigation units consist of a travelling irrigator with a 20m boom, a diesel pump set and two 30,000 litre water tanks.
Mr Pritchard said mobile machinery would enable department researchers to use the equipment across a number of sites.
“They are relatively easy to move, which means they can be used for several trials in one or two different locations throughout the year,” he said.
“We expect the mobile irrigators will also be seen on landholders’ properties, as we work closely with grower groups throughout the Grainbelt on field trials.”