The use of water and its cost remain a key part of the production-profitability equation for many cane growers.

Over half of the Australian sugarcane crop relies on either full or supplementary irrigation. Water availability varies by district, with the Burdekin region having the most reliable supply with a full irrigation allocation each year. Water allocations in the other irrigated districts, such as the Atherton Tableland and the Central and Southern Regions, are more variable.

Furrow, overhead low-pressure systems, including centre pivot or lateral move, and overhead high-pressure systems, including water winches and travelling booms, are the most common irrigation systems in use. However, emerging technologies such as drip irrigation are being seen as a new way to irrigate as they conserve water and lower energy inputs.


Irrigation of Sugarcane Manual

This SRA publication contains information useful for cane growers experienced in irrigation and also for those new to irrigation practices. The different sections of the manual cover soil water and the response of sugarcane to irrigation, water quality, irrigation systems, and irrigation of saline and sodic soils.


Other tools and information sheet downloads


Developed by the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) EconCalc is a decision support tool which can economically evaluate the costs and benefits associated with a new irrigation system. It calculates a number of economic performance indicators such as net present value, the annualised costs/benefits, the internal rate of return and the benefit cost ratioconomic calculator for irrigation systems.


Developed by the Queensland Government this free on-line irrigation management tool is principally designed for use with field crops but can also be used with sugarcane. It uses real time weather data to calculate crop growth and water use. A user name and password are required.


The primary aim of IrrigWeb is to provide irrigators with current and local advice on sugarcane crop water use and development. The tool combines crop water use estimates with user-defined irrigation system constraints and crop cycle inputs to schedule future irrigation events.