One-stop irrigation know-how shop

Paul Reese, project manager for IrrigationNZ, and Charlotte Butler, technical and trade project...
Paul Reese, project manager for IrrigationNZ, and Charlotte Butler, technical and trade project manager, will be presenting and hosting sessions at the Great Irrigation Challenge. Photo by Maureen Bishop

A pilot project on 14 farms in Canterbury and North Otago has shown there is considerable scope to improve the efficiency of energy used in on-farm irrigation systems.

The pilot project was a partnership between Irrigation New Zealand (INZ), the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and the electricity lines companies of Canterbury and North Otago. It considered where there was an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of on-farm irrigation systems and their operation and, if so, what the scale was.

Of the 14 farms that took part in the survey over two irrigation seasons, 12 had improvements to make, many with a number of options. The actions identified were achievable and the payback and capital costs to make improvements were realistic.

Findings from the project will be presented at the Great Irrigation Challenge in Ashburton on October 2 and 3.

Paul Reese, project manager for INZ, will present the findings with Keri Johnston.

Mr Reese said the project found there were lots of opportunities for improvement. While there was a range of areas, soil moisture monitoring was the biggest, he said, along with maintenance.

Looking at reducing the energy bill is just one of 16 half-day workshops at the Great Irrigation Challenge.

INZ, which is running the event, is hoping every farmer who attends will go home with information that will be useful in farming operations.

The workshops will look at issues and challenges unique to the irrigation industry and will be run by industry experts and practitioners. The event is designed to be a one-stop shop for irrigators looking for new ideas, technological solutions and good-management and good-practice advice.

The latest in a series of guides produced by INZ will be launched at the event. The two guides for irrigation design and management for rolling hill country have been developed following three years of research funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Those attending will also have the chance to win the installation of a telemetered soil moisture-monitoring site, with a year's telemetry service from the event's principal sponsor, Aqualinc. The prize is valued at $3500.

Last year's inaugural event attracted 250 people. INZ is hoping there will be even more next month.

- by Maureen Bishop 

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