Irrigation Water Audits
Australia is short of water, crops are competing for the limited supply, water must be used as efficiently as possible. Water audits are proposed.
Water auditing could be done by the existing scheduling consultants. The consultants could act like accountants, with independence from the grower, but at the same time answerable to a water authority.
Measurements are already being taken to predict the next irrigation, but at no extra cost the same data can also be used to calculate...
A report can be produced to show water delivered and water used by the crop; totaled for the farm, for each field, and even for individual irrigations. The consultant could be responsible for recording the farm gate meter and rain gauge, and the amounts delivered to each field. For drip systems this can economically be done with in-line water meters - flood irrigation is more of a problem, but solutions have been suggested by WUE Dubbo and USQ, Qld.
The consultants could be offering a combined 'scheduling and water audit service', with a certified report at the end of the season.
The benefit to the government of using private consultants is that it would be at very little cost, because existing data would be used.
The benefit to the grower is that it will give improvements in yield and quality. Many growers are already paying for a scheduling service, because it increases yield and quality while optimising water use.
Training and accreditation of consultants would be required.
The data from individual growers could be automatically aggregated via the internet for analysis on a crop, valley, regional and national basis. The obvious methodology would be XML which is independant of software and hardware. An XML schema would be required as early as possible, and all software should be able to export in XML to this schema.
Audits could be imposed by government; by bodies like the MDC; or implemented voluntarily by individual crops such as cotton or wine.