Agronomy jigsaw - finding the pieces that maximise water use efficiency

Page last updated: Friday, 3 November 2017 - 2:22pm

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The Agronomy Jigsaw project is an initiative of the Department in collaboration with the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA) and Precision Agronomics Australia (PAA). The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded the project under the water use efficiency initiative (DAW193).


Improving water use efficiency (WUE) is the key to increasing crop production in dryland agriculture. In southern Western Australia, water use efficiencies of wheat can vary from 8-22 kilograms/millilitres/hectare. The purpose of the agronomy jigsaw project is to understand this variation at paddock level: What are the main causes of this variability and how can we manage it to improve profitability?

The project investigates using precision agriculture (PA) techniques to identify and manage soil and crop variability. These techniques use spatial data; yield maps, elevation contours, biomass imagery (NDVI), electromagnetic induction (EM) and gamma radiometrics to identify and interpret variation in crop yields and soil properties. PAA’s method of combining precision agriculture data with in-paddock agronomy is a new approach to identifying and managing factors resulting in poor WUE. Through collaboration with PAA, the Agronomy Jigsaw project has identified seven main topics where the greatest gains in understanding variation in WUE can be made. These are:

  • using remotely sensed data such as EM and gamma radiometrics (gamma) to
  • map soil constraints, soil types and WUE
  • correlating land-based radiometric and EM survey data compared to airborne
  • survey data
  • identifying the correlation between radiometric survey potassium levels and soil
  • test potassium levels
  • investigating gypsum application theory and trial demonstrations
  • determining lime requirements; predicting where and how much to apply
  • defining a protocol for strip trial analysis
  • exploring potential uses for elevation models to understand WUE and how they
  • can be used with other remotely sensed data.

Other contributors to this pulication are:

  • Paul Galloway - Research Officer (DAFWA, Esperance)
  • Kelly Kong - former Research Officer (DAFWA, Esperance)
  • Nigel Metz - Project Officer (SEPWA)

This bulletin is available in an accessible word version, or PDF via links on the right hand side of the page. If you would like a hard copy of the publication, contact the Esperance office:

PMB 50 Melijinup Road
Esperance WA 6450
Phone: +61 (0) 8 9083 1111
Fax: +61 (0) 8 9083 1100


David Hall
Jeremy Lemon