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ENV4106 Irrigation Science

Semester 2, 2023 Toowoomba On-campus
Units : 1
School or Department : School of Agriculture and Environmental Science
Grading basis : Graded
Course fee schedule : https://www.unisq.edu.au/current-students/administration/fees/fee-schedules
Version produced : 28 May 2023


Course Coordinator: Joseph Foley


Pre-requisite: AGR3304 or Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCEN or GCSC or GDSI or METC or MEPR or GCNS or GDNS or MENS or MSCN.


The control of the application of water to land (irrigation) and the removal of surplus water from land (drainage) is critical to much of Australia's agriculture. This course will provide the skills necessary for the design and management of effective, efficient and sustainable on farm irrigation systems. Irrigation application methods (current and proposed) are studied with an emphasis on the evaluation and optimisation of performance. Efficient irrigation also requires an appreciation of the physical processes of the entry, storage and redistribution of water in soils; the uptake of water by plants (including limitations caused by soil salinization); evaporation of water directly into the atmosphere; and evaporation through plants as transpiration (evapotranspiration). The course will also show students that the long term viability of irrigation is dependent upon the provision of adequate surface and subsurface drainage.

Course learning outcomes

The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. evaluate the factors limiting the performance of irrigated agriculture (in particular Australian irrigated agriculture) and urban irrigation and assess the technologies and management strategies available to address those limitations;
  2. describe quantitatively the occurrence and movement of water in soils, including the processes of infiltration, redistribution and drying, and the upward movement of water from a water-table;
  3. describe quantitatively the fundamental physics of atmospheric evapo-transpiration; and assess the relative magnitudes of the various factors controlling evaporation in any given agricultural or naturally-vegetated situation;
  4. determine the actual crop evaporation from standard daily Bureau of Meteorology station data using the 'FA056-Penman-Monteith' method; evaluate in comparison with standard evaporation pan data; and hence determine the water requirement of crops and prepare workable irrigation schedules;
  5. analyse the characteristics of irrigation application methods (surface, sprinkler and micro-irrigation), evaluate system performance, and design systems for maximum performance;
  6. apply the technologies and practices required to maintain sustainable irrigation, including the maintenance of acceptable salt balances in the root zone and the provision of adequate drainage.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Irrigation performance and evaluation 15.00
2. Soil plant atmosphere continuum 20.00
3. Micrometeorology and the physics of evaporation 20.00
4. Irrigation scheduling 10.00
5. Irrigation application methods 25.00
6. Drainage 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

A scientific calculator which is non-programmable, that does not hold textual information and cannot display graphs.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Written Report 1 No 10 1,2
Assignments Design Model (theoretical) No 20 2,3,4
Assignments Written Report 2 No 20 1,5,6
Examinations Non-invigilated Time limited online examinatn No 50 1,2,3,4,5,6
Date printed 28 May 2023