Presented by Dr Carolyn Hedley Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research.
Globally, irrigation has sustained agriculture for millennia and it still critically supports world food supply. The relatively recent expansion of irrigated land in New Zealand introduced ‘high-tech’ machines to our landscape and created a need to research best practice. The area of irrigated land increased by 73% between 2002 to 2017 from 460,000 ha to 795,000 ha and this expansion contributed an estimated 11% increase to farm gate returns.
This talk will explain how we undertook experiments with participating farmers – and their new irrigation equipment – to work out how to best manage these systems – and make wise decisions about when, where, and how much irrigation to apply. The goals of the research were to maximise conversion of valuable irrigation water to plant growth and to mitigate any negative environmental impacts, and this talk will present some of our findings and the very latest precision irrigation approaches.
Carolyn Hedley is a Soil Scientist with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, based in Palmerston North, and has research interests in developing high-resolution methods for mapping soil properties. In 2009, she completed a PhD entitled “The Development of Proximal Sensing Methods for Soil Mapping and Monitoring, and their Application to Precision Irrigation” with the Massey University precision agriculture group. Carolyn currently leads research projects that are developing procedures to monitor soil carbon stocks, as well as the MBIE Programme “Maximising the Value of Irrigation”. She lives on a small Kairanga farm with husband, Professor Mike Hedley.