Experts are investigating blockchain technologies for water markets.

A new pilot research project promises to be a game-changer for Far North Queensland irrigators, allowing them to tap into a new water market and trading platform using the latest digital blockchain technology.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is helping blockchain and digital technology experts Civic Ledger work with researchers and industry representatives to deliver the “Improving water markets and trading through new digital technologies” pilot research project.

The project will involve the participation of irrigators across the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland in a demonstration of digital blockchain technology.

“The project team will work with stakeholders including irrigators to help them understand how blockchain and smart contracts work and how they may help them save money and improve their decision-making by allowing them to access near-real-time water trading information,” the CRCNA's CEO Jed Matz said.

“We hope through accessing and using the technology platform, irrigators will provide feedback to help improve the technology and the adoption of Civic Ledger's Water Ledger platform.”

Civic Ledger is applying their Water Ledger platform to process historical temporary water allocation trading data already held by local provider Sunwater.

The trading platform includes self-executing smart contracts based on the operating rules established for the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme with quick turnarounds.

Irrigators will be able to trade temporary water allocations almost instantaneously; this is a significant improvement to current trades which can take up to days or weeks to execute.

Katrina Donaghy, CEO and Co-founder of Civic Ledger, said the company wants to create a public register which holds all water trading data in one place to build public confidence and enhance transparency.

“A catalyst to driving innovation across water markets is to remove unnecessary complexities in how water allocations are traded. This means simplifying the process and providing greater clarity to stakeholders,” she said.

“The pilot project will also provide essential data to inform trading optimisation for the growing Northern Australia agriculture industry as a whole.”

Joe Moro, chair of FNQ Growers, says the initiative could put power back in the hands of local irrigators, who can control their ability to trade temporary water allocations as required.

“I'm very excited at the opportunity this gives our growers and look forward to seeing results over the coming months,” he said.