Few aspects of Australian society are as crucial as keeping a close watch on our water utility management. This most precious of resources is alarmingly scarce in our country, and while several states enjoyed above-average rainfall to start the year, large parts of NSW and Queensland in particular continue to struggle with significant rainfall deficiencies, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
Tapping into the explosion in mobile technology, one Australian organisation has introduced an innovative app to assist farmers across the nation with their irrigation schedules, aiming to save water in the process.
A digital tool for modern agriculture
The new app, developed by Horticulture Innovation Australia in partnership with technology company The Yield, gathers information from the BOM to provide farmers with an estimate of soil moisture and water use by crops. Users simply enter their location and crop type – with the first version focusing on brassicas, carrots, lettuce and leafy vegetables – and crop growth stage, and the app provides them with essential water information.
"This new app will harness the power of technology to take away some of the uncertainty growers face when deciding when the best time to irrigate is, and how much water might be needed," says David Moore, Hort Innovation Research and Investments General Manager.
"It's a simple, easy-to-use solution that will help growers improve irrigation efficiency, with flow-on effects for crop yields, profitability and sustainability."
The Yield app is now available on both Apple's iOS platform and Google Android devices.
Empowering users with water management solutions
While their high use makes farmers a natural fit for water conservation innovation, new research has indicated that household consumers are also interested in tools to help them do their part. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report in December 2016 noted that respondents welcomed the idea of mobile apps to monitor their water usage in real time.
Some agencies are taking a gamification route to promote water management, however. SA Water's Operation Aqua app puts simulated real-time control over the state's water assets in the hands of children, providing a fun outlet to teach about the value of resource management.
Leveraging the popularity of mobile devices can benefit all manner of industries, and with the emerging creativity of water management apps, we could soon be pulling out our smartphones to help conserve resources.