Advancing automation and smart sensing irrigation technologies in the rice industry


Water for irrigation continues to be the most critical resource for the Australian rice industry and the major threat to the continuation of its production in the southern Murray Darling basin. Without irrigation water, the industry has no alternative solution.
A focus on automation and smart sensing irrigation technologies has the potential to significantly contribute to ensuring the rice industry is lifting water use productivity and will be a core component of any production system aiming to achieve the dry rice productivity target of 1.5t/ML by 2030.  It has only been recently that these technologies have been available to rice growers from commercial providers due to efforts from Deakin University and Padman Automation through the SIP2 co-funded AgriFutures project. While the technology is in its infancy, it is already being adopted commercially. Automation technologies improve the precision of irrigation and therefore reduce water use and increase profitability per ML, through reducing labour needs and water usage.
This project seeks to expand on the initial work on automation and smart sensing irrigation technologies developed by the team to support its uptake across the industry on a wide scale and refine its use to continue to increase adoption and reduce costs to end users.
Widespread adoption of this technology has multiple benefits for the rice industry. These include increased water use productivity, decreased labour requirements, attractiveness for skilled professionals to be part of a progressive industry and increased marketing and political positioning potential, through being seen as a 'smart -sustainable' user of water, thus, increasing the rice industry’s social licence to operate.




Research Organisation

Deakin University (a body politic and corporate established pursuant to the Deakin University Act 2009 (Vic))

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Project Completion Date

Tuesday, July 29, 2025

National Priority

RIC-Agronomy and farming systems