Mark Castalanelli

Region: Burdekin

Who: Mark Castalanelli

Location: Burdekin

To compare different methods of amelioration to improve soakage across beds during furrow irrigation

Furrow irrigation is used on approximately 95% of farms in the Burdekin. In this method, the water is applied down furrows (space between the beds) and the water needs to both reach the end of the paddock and soak across to the center of the bed for effective irrigation. When the water doesn’t soak across, this is described as poor soakage.

This is an issue for a large number of Burdekin growers. Current strategies to improve soakage include:

  • Gypsum applications (changes the salt content in the soil, displacing sodium
  • Cultivating the sides of the beds (to break up the sides of the hill to encourage water movement)
  • Slowing the water flow rate down (water is on the paddock longer, more chance of soaking across)

The grower wants to trial new ways of managing soakage issues on his farm. One of the treatments he’s trialling is called Aqua-sil. This is a polymer compound developed by CHT. CHT claim that Aqua-sil will improve soakage by creating a hydrophilic environment that will encourage the water to soak across. They also state that it will improve the water holding capacity of the soil, which may lead to less irrigations being required.


Thiocal is a liquid fertiliser that calcium and sulphur (the same elements contained in gypsum) that is applied to the surface of the soil. It is supposed to work like gypsum; however, because it is in a liquid form, it may be more soluble, resulting in a faster reaction. (