University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researchers have been recognised for their exceptional work with industry in irrigation and water management, after being awarded the Cotton Seed Distributors Researcher of the Year Award at the 2018 Australian Cotton Industry Awards.

Dr Joseph Foley, Dr Alison McCarthy and Dr Malcolm Gillies from USQ’s Smart Automated Irrigation Research Team were nominated by industry peers for bringing engineering expertise and knowledge to the cotton industry in a number of areas including in-field irrigation and water management skills, as well as software and instrumentation development for irrigation improvement. Their industry-funded research, which has spanned the past 15 years, has focused on improving irrigation performance and cotton production by drawing on technologies in irrigation management, measurement and control for application in cotton irrigation systems.

Dr Foley said to be recognised by industry was especially rewarding. “It is a huge honour to have received what is one of the most prestigious agricultural industry research awards in the country,” he said. “Our recent work is realising significant benefits through smart automated irrigation systems and we’ll continue to assist industry to improve irrigation management performance with existing irrigation systems, and to provide real benefit to the industry through overall water productivity increases.”

The team paid particular tribute to growers who had collaborated with the team. “We have many grower collaborators and without their substantial support for our very large field trial areas and their continual interactions with us to “keep it real”, we would not be able to achieve the industry impact that we do,” Dr Foley said.

USQ’s irrigation research in the cotton industry has been funded by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Commonwealth’s Rural R&D for Profit program.

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