Water Research Programme

We have a very active Water Research Group in the Department that is well supported by the Water Research Commission (WRC) and industry. Our group has developed the Soil Water Balance model (SWB), which has been used and further developed by many staff and students over the years.

We are currently updating the Irrigation Water Quality Guidelines, and developing a user friendly decision support system that produces multi-tier, risk based guidelines to determine fitness for use or objective setting. In addition, after more than a decade of research in the mining industry, we have started up a new project to demonstrate the feasibility of large scale mine water irrigation. A dynamic group of students are involved in this project, covering aspects of Soil Chemistry, Soil Physics, Plant Nutrition, Water and Solute Balance Modelling, the Economics of Mine Water Irrigation, and the Movement of Salts through the Landscape (surface and groundwater flows).

In addition, we are investigating the role that simple and innovative irrigation scheduling and solute monitoring tools can play in adaptive learning, to assist irrigators better manage water, nutrients and salts. This project is funded locally by the WRC, but has linkages to a large Australian funded project that is active in Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. There are several other exciting water related projects in the Department, and these include projects on Water Footprinting, Nutrient Non-Point Source Pollution, water use and water relations of important fruit tree crops (Citrus, Macadamias, Pecans, Peaches, Avocados), water use of pasture crops, water use and production of potatoes in changing climates, and the use of the Cosmic Ray Probe in irrigated agriculture.