CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. They approached us last year as they were looking to add SMS functionality to a project of theirs – The irriGATEWAY project.
The irriGATEWAY project, helps irrigators finely tune their crop watering to match the weather and their crop’s development stage and all communication is done via the Esendex SMS API.
The project uses SMS to send specialised agricultural information to irrigators and SMS again to receive irrigation and rainfall details back from the irrigators. There were 70 grape growers who used the system and for many it was the first time they had encountered scientific watering advice.
We’ve been told that the results for the 08/09 season were a great success! Those growers who followed it closely experienced higher than average crop productivity and in many cases were able to partially avoid the effects of a heat wave that devastated the crops of a lot of other growers.
In fact, the results have been so successful that CSIRO are expanding the project for 09/10 to include three new trials. Firstly, an extension of the 70 grape growers to 150 in the NSW Riverina as well as a second trial group of grape growers in Northern Victoria. Secondly, a trial group of orange growers, again in the Riverina and the third trial is a large-scale trial involving 250 vegetable and turf growers in the Sydney basin.
Chris Skourtis from CSIRO says that:
“A combination of the facts relating to improved cropping through using the system and the irrigators’ positive experiences with this new technology mean that it has been viewed as the most promising current irrigation scheduling program in Australian horticulture.”
Who would have thought something so simple as a text message could have such a positive impact on our horticulture industry. It’s great feedback for us to hear that irregators are reaping the benefits for something as simple as sending and receiving text messages on a daily basis.
CSIRO expect that after the 09/10 season, the research agencies involved will look to expand operations to similar irrigation environments, such as the San Joaquin Valley in California, in order to deliver Australian ‘smarts’ elsewhere.
Here’s to a bumper crop for 09/10!