'Smart siphons' operated by smartphone could get irrigated crop growers out of a tight squeeze when faced with a labour shortage.
That was the message from Smart Syphon managing director Gavin Kelly at the recent MacIntyre Valley Cotton field day.
Mr Kelly said automated siphons would become increasingly valuable as the industry continued to grapple with a shortage of workers.
"[The payback comes] when you've got a bunch of water and you've got a COVID situation and you can't irrigate," Mr Kelly said.
"So now you've got the capacity to grow a crop without the need to muster a heap of local backpackers to run hand siphons.
"It gives you the capacity to essentially grow crops with water that you have available without the constraint of labour."
Smart Syphons are connected to a 90mm diameter pipe through the bank with a rotating arm and riser fitted.
The number of siphons operating at once is limited by the length of cable and the stretch from the rotational friction.
The maximum number per gang is about 150 at this stage.
Each gang is turned on by rotating the arm from a vertical to horizontal position.
Flow rates can be adjusted through inserting reducers into the riser and by adjusting the head height.
Each of the siphon gangs can be started and stopped either with the push of a button at the controller or via an app on a mobile phone.
While a full automated overhaul appealed to some growers, Mr Kelly said he understood not every grower wanted to change all of their infrastructure.
"Let's say you don't want to redevelop your farm - you just want to go with the existing setup that you've got - this is definitely one of the options that you can consider," he said.
Recently, Smart Syphons inked a deal with major ag retailer Nutrien Ag Solutions to help boost its market reach.
Mr Kelly said the company had been trialling the system for over five years, had begun manufacturing, and this was the next step.
"We've teamed up with Nutrien to get this out into the marketplace and talk to growers about the transition from hand siphons to potentially automating their systems," Mr Kelly said.
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