Ideally, water should be readily available to all plants and in sufficient quantity if maximum growth is to be achieved. In southern Africa, irregular rainfall is a major limiting factor for plant growth, and irrigation, therefore, plays a very important role. The increased revenue from crop yield response to irrigation must cover the irrigation capital and operating costs.

Information and advice related to irrigation can be found in the various publications, videos and smartphone apps described below.


Agricultural Engineer




Irrigation (isiZulu)

Smartphone & Desktop Applications

Irrigation Scheduling Calendar DSP (ISCDSP)

The ISCDSP is a spreadsheet-based tool which generates optimal guidelines for the timing of irrigation for specified inputs such as irrigation amount (mm), geographic location, row spacing (single vs tramline) and ground cover (burnt vs mulched). Based on a database of model-generated sugarcane ET from LTM weather data for a number of sites, the DSP calculates the time to deplete applied irrigation under zero rainfall circumstances and suggests dates for the first two irrigation events and the subsequent ‘no rain’ cycle length for each month in the remaining season. The generated calendar is based on robust long-term mean data and must be accompanied by a rain delay calculator to adjust irrigation cycle lengths for rainfall on a real-time basis.

Rain Delay Calculator

The rain delay calculator is a laminated cardboard dial. The dial allows a user to look at the number of days that irrigation should be delayed for after rain, based on the amount of rain received and the current month of the year, before resuming normal cycle time. The rain delay calculator can be used independently with fixed cycle irrigation, or along with calendars generated by the ISCDSP. The database for the rain delay dial can be found in the ISCDSP.


SAsched is a spreadsheet-based irrigation scheduling tool. It solves the soil water budget based on weather data and inputs relating to soils, crop and irrigation system specifications, indicating when irrigation will next be required. The SAsched soil water budget is based on sophisticated algorithms from the ACRU model and is capable of reporting run-off and deep percolation losses, in addition to estimating cane yield.

IrriEcon v2

Irriecon v2 is a spreadsheet-based tool used to assess different irrigation strategies by determining detailed capital, operating and marginal costs. The specific costs associated with sugarcane farming practices such as the application of fertilisers and herbicides, planting, harvesting and haulage together with irrigation systems, water and electricity costs are accounted for.


This is a web-based sugarcane simulation tool linked to the full online SASRI weather and soil water database for simulating crop growth and water use for registered users. Applications include cane yield, cane quality and water use benchmarking, real-time irrigation scheduling and yield forecasting.
Try MyCanesim

MyCanesim Lite

This is available both as a web-based and mobile phone application. It is a sugarcane simulation tool linked to the Canesim model and the full online SASRI weather database for simulating crop growth and water use for limited sets of inputs. Applications include cane yield, cane quality and water-use benchmarking and limited yield forecasting.
Try MyCanesim Lite


SASRI has access to several automatic and manual weather stations across the sugar industry. All information gathered is stored in a weather database at SASRI. This information can be extracted in the form of maps, graphs or reports. Various levels of customisation can be applied to selections.
Visit WeatherWeb


Water Management research focuses on the development of recommendations and advice to promote effective water management and deployment of associated technologies, both in terms of irrigation practices and surface water management. Visit SYSTEMS DESIGN & OPTIMISATION for more information.

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