19 November 2021, AU: As irrigation becomes front of mind for in many parts of the country, it’s a timely reminder of the importance of technology for managing soil moisture and plant health.
Elders have partnered with SWAN Systems an all-in-one water and nutrient monitoring system, helping farmers make the most out of every drop of water.
Elders agtech development officer, Andrew Phelan, is excited to promote SWAN Systems to Elders clients, having experienced the technology firsthand.
“SWAN Systems has given the Struan Best Practice Demonstration Farm the ability to be more pro-active then re-active,” explained Mr Phelan.
“In this district, where forecast spring rain doesn’t eventuate, SWAN Systems gives us the peace of mind that our soil moisture stores are sitting at appropriate levels. Allowing us to maintain pasture growth rather than constantly having to play catch up when we hit the summer months.”
Turning knowledge into action at Treviso
Another practical example for the use of SWAN Systems comes from FPG agronomist at Treviso – Premium Australian Grapes, Tristan Smith. He said that he couldn’t manage his vines without SWAN.
In the Sunraysia district during November 2020, it was unusually hot. Vines were transitioning from fruit set to the formation of pea-sized berries, a process that requires water to assist with cell division and decides how large a berry will get. At this time when water application was critical, the region suffered from an early and prolonged heatwave.
The mean maximum temperature for the region in November is 27.7°C. On 28 November 2020, the highest temperature since 1946 was recorded – 45.7°C, 18°C hotter than normal. If you didn’t see this coming, you couldn’t prepare for it.
- 15 days had maximum temperatures over the average of 31.9°C for the month.
- 7 days were under the long-term average of 27.7°C for the month.
November had been hotter than normal, so growers were already giving their vines extra water. But for many, this wasn’t enough. By failing to meet the vines water needs at a critical time in their development, fruit quality was dramatically decreased.
Treviso, a long-term customer of SWAN Systems, were less worried than most. Their SWAN Systems account was tracking the weather and the vines water use, and was able to predict, daily, just how much water had to be applied to the vines during this unusual month.
“As we saw the extra heat coming a week away, it meant we could start filling the profile in advance, so we had plenty of moisture for the whole heat wave,” Tristain explained.
“The interesting thing was we didn’t use extra water for the season, as we saved water later when the weather cooled, and SWAN helped us reduce irrigations.
“We were really happy with overall fruit quality and pack-outs, but there’s always learnings which we can apply to following seasons,” Tristan said.