New irrigation system to future-proof the farm

Kauru Hill farmer Bryce Burnett has an irrigation development planned for his property. Photo by Lisa Minhinnick.
Kauru Hill farmer Bryce Burnett has an irrigation development planned for his property. Photo by Lisa Minhinnick.
Bryce Burnett is looking forward to greener pastures.

Mr Burnett and his wife, Janice, farm a 360ha property at Kauru Hill, in North Otago, running predominantly deer.

Irrigation is being installed under the North Otago Irrigation Company expansion programme to future-proof the farm for the long term by providing the security of consistent grass supply.

A total of 95ha of flat and gently sloping land would be watered and an increase to 4000 stock units carried was planned.

The couple would be the first in New Zealand to use the TORO irrigation system on such a scale. Similar technology was used on golf courses with a fixed-grid, pop-up system.

‘‘You can’t see anything, it’s all out of sight. You wouldn’t know the paddocks [have] irrigation, just that they were green,’’ Mr Burnett said.

The sprinklers reset back into the ground when not being used and could be directly drilled, mown and driven over easily.

He was excited about the opportunities provided by irrigation, saying it gave them the ability to finish all their stock ‘‘plus a lot more’’.

‘‘It takes the highs and lows out of farming,’’ he said.

It meant they could work to have good years every year ‘‘instead of having some good years ... it just makes it that easier to farm and plan.’’

All North Otago farmers were used to farming in dry conditions and they had ‘‘all just hung in there’’. Now, with the arrival of water, it meant they could be in a much stronger position.

Mr Burnett had about 750 hinds and brought in bulls to finish. Stock numbers would increase once the irrigation was installed.

Full control over water application and no run-off was something Mr Burnett was very conscious of. ‘‘We’re just trying to do our best for the environment really,’’ he said.

A QEII covenant of 19ha of native bush adjoining the Kauru River was created on their property in 2002.

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