Every day a cotton crop is in stress it looses a whopping 1.5 per cent of its potential yield.
For irrigated crops, the ability to forecast stress events and measure crop response is a potential game changer for protecting yield and profit.
New canopy sensor technology, commercialised through Goanna Ag, is set to improve irrigation efficiency, in both cotton and other agricultural crops.
Speaking from the AgriFutures Evoke Ag start-up alley, Goanna Ag CEO Alicia Garden said while Goanna had decades of runs on the board in the cotton industry, the company was now branching out.
"While we are beyond proof of concept stage, we have market traction, its about expanding the use cases for what our technology can do in other agricultural industries," she said.
"We know the technology is rigorous.
"The sensors have applications in other irrigation industry's, we've proven that both commercially and in trials over the last 12 months, and now we are looking to expand on that."
Ms Garden said the company's Go Field product was a holistic moisture management system.
"We have a lot of water measurement devices, but our bread and butter is about precision irrigation," she said.
"We use a combination of a soil moisture probe, automatic weather station and a canopy sensor to monitor the stress levels and accumulated temperature of a crop.
"Based on this we make a recommendation on the need to irrigate, allowing you to avoid potential yield penalties from stressing the crop."
Ms Garden said the system was sold as an annual subscription, including both the hardware as well as a premium service component.
"We do the installation, hold your hand technically to ensure the data makes sense to you and at the end of the season we come and pull it out," she said.
"While the probes are a known medium, the canopy sensor is new, so making sure we can give you the right expertise to ensure you are getting the right reading."
Ms Garden said the canopy sensor technology was developed by the CSIRO and the Cotton Research Development Corporation and had been trialled in Australia for over ten years.
"A crop doesn't just stress from water," she said.
"We have also conducted trials in places like America where the profile is full, but the crop is stressing because the crop has been over-irrigated.
"The idea is to understand exactly what the crop response is and not just one environmental parameter."
Ms Garden said the system was a forecast model, predicting the stress before it occurred so growers could get on top of it before there was a yield penalty.
"We monitor the crop but also forecast when a stress event will happen so you can be proactive and avoid the yield penalty," she said.
"You want to stress a crop when you first put it in the ground, because you want it to develop a root system, but after that point of time you need to closely manage the stress to avoid the yield penalty."