Introducing the Water School

Come on a learning journey with us as we explore the big questions of irrigation and dive deeper into the science of turning water into food.

Learning by doing is at the heart of the VIA. In our first course of the Water School, Richard takes you through a year in his garden laboratory.

The course is called "A Journey via the Scientist's Garden" and can be can be done in two ways. For those who want an introduction to the VIA in action, you can watch the Garden Documentary below. For those who want to go deeper into the science, we encourage you to enrol in the Water School.

How to participate?

Just watch the documentary

The garden documentary consists of the seven videos below, each 15 minutes long. The videos follow a number of different crops through the year, with Richard monitoring water, nitrate and salt and explaining what the colour patterns mean. The documentary can be accessed from this page below.

Or, enrol in the course

The Water School course consists of seven modules that are 40 minutes long. Each module starts with one of the garden videos and then goes much deeper into the science behind managing water and solutes in irrigated agriculture. To participate the Water School, you must enrol.
Steps to enrol
  1. Sign up to the VIA
    You will need to sign in before you can enrol. If you don’t have an account, please sign up here: Sign up
  1. Enrol
    Once you are signed in, click on the menu: My VIA, My Water School and then click Enrol.

Garden Documentary Series

"A Journey via the Scientist's Garden"

Introduction to the journey
Module 1 introduces you to some of the story behind the VIA. We give you a basic overview of the equipment and the data platform and what the Water School is all about.
Learning by colour
Module 2 was filmed in October which is spring in Canberra. We learn how the Chameleon colours work, by tracking a broad bean crop grown during the previous winter. We discuss how to measure nitrate levels in an onion crop and investigate a salt problem with young tomatoes in the glasshouse.
Colours and patterns
Module 3 was filmed in December, when the summer garden is in full swing. We investigate furrow irrigated tomatoes, trying to work out where the water is going and where the roots are active. We move from understanding the meaning of the colours to interpreting the colour patterns.
When to water
Module 4 was shot in late January and the garden is overflowing with produce - but the weather is hot and the irrigator is getting desperate. We look at how we change the way we irrigate depending on the growth stage of the crop and we discover how drip, furrow or flood irrigation give us very different Chameleon patterns.
Feast and famine
Module 5 was filmed in March and marks the change of seasons from summer to autumn when the cool-season crops are planted. We explore problems of overproduction and the hungry gap when food is harder to come by. Then we introduce you to some of the deep dilemmas of irrigation and the problems of measurement.
It gets complicated
Module 6 was filmed in late May when irrigation is hardly needed on cool-season crops growing into the winter. So we use this opportunity to give you a crash course in soil science with a range of demonstrations to show how soils hold water and we can get a better grip on the right time to irrigate.
The life of a sensor
Module 7 is the final module in this course. We look at the life of a sensor, from its testing in the lab to troubleshooting in the field and then we tie up all the loose ends from journey via the Scientist’s garden.