Irrigation New Zealand has joined forces with other
specialists to help Canterbury farmers who have storm-damaged
irrigators manage without water as the race to complete
About 800 irrigators from South to North Canterbury were
damaged by the high winds last month.
Pressure has gone on the industry to get repairs completed
quickly to avoid production losses in the event of a dry
Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said
repairs were well under way.
The crisis had mobilised ''the old Kiwi No 8 wire mentality''
when it came to repair work, he said.
He expected most of the RotoRainer equipment - where it was
not ''completely terminal'' - would be repaired soon.
And rather than waiting on parts to arrive, repairers were
''cannabilising'' damaged systems to make one good system.
''There's a certain amount of creativity out there.''
But he said he wanted to remind all farmers pre-season checks
of systems would be even more important this year as parts
and labour would be in short supply due to the storm.
''Irrigators cannot afford for their irrigator to break down
due to negligence as it will result in downtime.
''Basic checks like ensuring the pivot tracks are free from
obstructions, tyre pressures are correct and so forth are a
no-brainer,'' Mr Curtis said.
He said credit was due to insurance companies and the
Government, which had assisted with progress.
Immigration New Zealand was helping with the formalities
needed to bring in workers from overseas and now it was up to
the irrigation companies to work with them, he said.
FMG Rural Insurance reported it had received more than 200
claims for irrigator damage totalling $6.5 million, but that
number was expected to rise.
Most insurance companies had been ''quite flexible''. The
vast majority had been ''great'', helping fast-track claims,
Mr Curtis said.
However, a ''handful'' of systems which were not commissioned
but were in the midst of ''handover'' from supplier to
customer were uninsured, something which parties needed to
guard against in future.
It was not a question of insurance companies reneging on
responsibilities, he said.
Clients needed to be clear about when the installers'
responsibility for insurance stopped and when they would need
to pick up that responsibility.
''There is a need to have proper contracts in place.''
Irrigation NZ had a standard contract available for use which
made specific reference to insurance, he said.
Mr Curtis said Irrigation NZ was also advising industry
bodies and farmers about how best to mitigate more long-term
effects from the water outage caused by the damage.
DairyNZ had been talking to its farmers about maintaining
pasture production under limited irrigation and the
Foundation for Arable Research was working closely with
Irrigation NZ had also joined forces with dairy
manufacturers, DairyNZ and Environment Canterbury (ECan) to
issue advice to farmers about effluent disposal, he said.
''It has highlighted the need to have a back-up plan [for
''If you have got effluent, you have got responsibilities.''
Last week, Irrigation NZ set up an online directory for
irrigators and irrigation schemes wanting to fast-track
repairs and access specialist advice at www.irrigationschemes.co.nz.
It has developed the directory with funding from the Ministry
of Primary Industries to build a database of experts focusing
About 40 providers can be contacted through the website and
Irrigation NZ expects the directory to grow as specialist
providers and others come on board.
- by Ruth Grundy
Notice and advice for farmers with broken effluent irrigation
systems, from IrrigationNZ, Environment Canterbury(ECan) and
the dairy industry.
What you need to do: Advise ECan by calling 0800 324-636 so
they have a formal record of the steps you have taken and the
plan for temporary effluent disposal to ensure no enforcement
Irrigation system damage:
- If you use a pivot to discharge effluent and it is damaged,
you will need to consider the volume of effluent you need to
manage and look at temporary options for disposal.
- Consider ways to reduce the amount of effluent you have to
deal with. Watch wash-down volumes.
- Keep a written record of any changes to your normal
- Minimise the application of effluent to land in order to
- Ensure no effluent gets into waterways.
- Talk to your provider about linking a small travelling
irrigator; use a rotorainer, if you have one, or some plastic
pods to get effluent out while you await pivot repairs. A
coupling could be installed after the pump and before the
mainline in many cases.
- Note that pods will need to be moved frequently to avoid
overloading soils, causing ponding and avoid nitrogen issues.
- If you need a vacuum tanker to discharge effluent, give
them as much warning as possible, as they are busy too.
- If only part of the pivot is broken, work with your
supplier to disconnect what you can and use the spans that
- Many suppliers have loan equipment which you may be able to
use; ask your neighbours, too.
- Determine where you sit in
the priority queue for pivot repairs
- Divert to storage if you have no means of discharging
- Get a small petrol pump if you have limited electricity or
generator space - it could help with shallow water takes,
effluent discharge etc.
- Discuss the action plan with your staff/ team and ensure
they know what is required of them.
- Training will be important with new equipment, as the team
may not have used it before.
- Safety is really important. Do not attempt anything you are
not competent at. Call your service provider to help you if
you are unsure.
- Consider supplementary feed stocks and purchase more if
required to bridge the gap on what you predicted to grow
- Access to stock water: Farmers who are not able to provide
normal stock water due to extreme weather can access
waterways to keep their animals watered.
- Farmers should take all practicable steps to prevent damage
to stream beds and banks if they need to water stock directly
from streams: Consider the sensitivity of the waterway and
avoiding those areas that are of highest value or most prone
to damage; Minimise the length of bank or bed that stock have
access to, Use other equipment such as tractor-driven pumps
or tankers to deliver water from streams to stock on the
farm, Use other options wherever possible to avoid damage to
Contact details for help:
- Go to the DairyNZ website www.dairynz.co.nz and search effluent
farmfacts. Contact the Fonterra Sustainability Team at the
Fonterra Service Centre on 0800 656 568. Synlait
Environmental adviser: Jeremy Burgess (027) 839-0601.
Westland Milk Products contact: Tony Watson (027) 705-6024.