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Rural Diary July
1 July 2019 External Supplier

Servicing that matters

Whilst it may seem not that long ago that irrigation was turned off, winter is an ideal time to check, replace and repair your equipment before you need it again soon.

By now all irrigators should be “winter ready”. Pumps and irrigators should be drained, all cords and other moveable parts should be tied neatly and away from the ground and most importantly, your irrigation equipment should be safely stored or placed in a way it’s best protected during the winter months. 

A thorough inspection is additionally required to prevent downtime and ensure cost efficiencies when the irrigation season starts again. Clayton Lucas, National Operations and Service Manager for PGG Wrightson Water, says that some of the most common issues found in the field during their winter servicing programme include: 

  • Nozzle and sprinkler wear on irrigators, causing excess water use and uneven distribution of water.
  • Pumps using excess energy due to pump wear, increasing your energy bill for no return.
  • Uneven tyre pressures on any given pivot span, resulting in excess rutting in paddocks and excessive drivetrain wear. 

Compliance requirements also drive the need for this yearly servicing inspection. Any farmer that exercises a consent to apply water to land has an obligation as part of their Farm Environment Plan (FEP) to produce records showing their irrigation equipment has been well maintained. 

If you have a detailed maintenance checklist, you may feel comfortable to carry this yearly inspection out yourself. For large irrigators such as pivots and travelling hoses however, a specialist provider is often brought in at this time of the year. 

PGG Wrightson Water has the only Valley Certified Technicians in New Zealand and offers a comprehensive (up to 75 or more areas checked) winter service for most brands of pivot and linear irrigators. This includes a full electrical and mechanical warrant of fitness. Other options available from the PGG Wrightson servicing team include: 

  • Servicing of submersible, surface, house and stock water pumps.
  • Winterising of irrigators and pump sheds.
  • Servicing of OCMIS irrigators.
  • Sprinkler pack checks and upgrades.
  • Pivot panels upgrades on older machine to a newer more modern ICON panels for Valley irrigators and most other brands.

If any areas or parts need replacing the client is notified immediately, and in most cases the repairs are done whilst the crew is on-site.

BOOK YOUR SERVICE NOW: Email water@pggwrightson.co.nz, phone 0800 864 774, or fill out our enquiry form.

Supplied by PGG Wrightson Water

External Supplier

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From dryland to irrigation in seven weeks

01 March 2019

A new centre pivot irrigation scheme has been the single biggest investment the Gillanders brothers have ever made in the family business, but they have their sights firmly set on the multiple opportunities that ‘rain on tap’ brings. And they’re making the most of the support offered by PGG Wrightson Water to succeed.

Almondbank farm in Darfield, Canterbury has been farmed by the Gillanders family since 1865. Andrew, Stuart and Donald are the current custodians of the 780 ha farm which is divided between cropping and sheep. Approximately 400 ha was dry cropped in the past, producing wheat, barley, grass seed and peas, and heavily dependent on rain for successful yields.

That 400 ha is now under seven centre pivots, with room for three more. Operated from a central location using Valley Base Station control equipment and accommodating varying paddock shapes, the system was designed and installed by the PGG Wrightson Water team.

“PGG Wrightson Water was a natural choice for us” says Andrew, who looks after the cropping side of the farm. “PGG Wrightson has been our rural supplies store forever; we sell grain and sheep through them too.

"Philip Darragh and his team came and saw us to get an idea of our requirements; they gave us plenty of ideas and several plans. And we worked closely with them to get what we needed.

“They then managed the installation project management from start to finish. We were already undergoing huge change and upheaval on the farm with the Central Plains Water Scheme laying pipes through the property. They liaised with them and worked in with our digger contractor too.

“Over 6,000 metres of pipe was put in, it all seemed to fall into place and was complete in seven weeks.”

Subsequently, the entire farm had to be re-fenced. 

“The PGG Wrightson team drew up a fencing programme for us and we are currently working through this project.” Andrew adds.

Moving from dry cropping to irrigation brings big changes, but Andrew’s confident they have the right support in place there too. 

“Our PGG Wrightson Arable Representative, Steve Roulston has worked with us for a number of years and he’s helped tremendously with the transition. He’s here every Monday at 9am, guaranteed!”
Andrew is very happy with his investment, strong in his belief that irrigation is fundamental to the future of New Zealand agriculture. 

“Everything starts with a seed. We use water to turn that seed into protein or carbohydrate, or more seed. With water, we can secure New Zealand’s food production.”
And he’s confident this new system will enable them to become better producers all round. 

“Irrigation provides us with more opportunities in horticultural and high value crops, and creates more flexibility in our system, including better feed for the sheep.

“As a crop farmer, I tend to do everything at the right time. I plant the seed at the right time, apply fertiliser at the right time, do weed and pest control at the right time. Now I can add water at the right time.”

Surety of water supply provides opportunities for Creekside Farms

01 October 2018

A key contributor to running a profitable sheep and beef farming operation is surety of water supply. This is especially important in drought-prone areas of New Zealand such as Central Otago.

Adam and Juls Lindsay own Creekside Farms on the Maniototo Plains near Ranfurly. They undertook a significant farm development, which includes irrigation, to ensure their 2,000 hectare sheep and beef operation is drought resistant.

The farm primarily runs Perendale sheep including 10,500 breeding ewes, 2,000 ewe hoggets and 120 rams. In addition they run 1,000 Merino wethers, winter 1,000 cattle and graze 800 dairy cows.
Adam Lindsay said, “When we took over the property in 2011 it had an irrigation system but it only covered 65 hectares (ha). The Maniototo Plains is prone to dry, hot summers and we needed to be more drought tolerant. We manage our farm inputs carefully, with one of those being water supply.

“We took advantage of the natural contours of the farm when planning the development which took five years to complete. We put in place a storage pond which has a capacity of up to 1.5 million cubic metres and installed four additional pivots – with the six pivots now providing coverage of 520ha. We have water rights to draw from the Kyeburn River, which runs alongside the eastern boundary of the farm, and is pumped to the top of the hill to fill the pond over a six month period. The water is gravity fed to the irrigation system during the summer months. We undertook the development so that we can make operational decisions on our terms and not be constrained due to adverse weather conditions.

“In March last year we bought in 2,000 trading cattle through the Go Beef scheme. Our Livestock Agent Ryan suggested the scheme, and it was a facility that met our needs at the time. This enabled us to hold the cattle through to spring (selling 1,000 through an on-farm sale in October 2017) and we finished the remaining cattle and sent them off in July 2018.” said Adam.

PGG Wrightson Senior Livestock Agent Ryan Dowling has worked with Adam and Juls since they moved to the Maniototo Plains in 2011.

Ryan said, “Adam is a progressive farmer and is always looking ahead to make productivity gains. Signing up to Go Beef was the right option for their farming operation last year and it worked well for them, but next year it might be procuring trading lambs to hold over the winter months. We work closely to ensure that every livestock trading opportunity is considered so they can make the most of any opportunities that arise. Their farm development has provided them with flexibility. It means that they can buy and sell stock when it suits them and they are often able to sell stock at a premium rather than due to weather conditions. They are well respected in the farming community. It is great to work with a farmer who knows the sheep and beef market well. Adam and operators like him are the future of New Zealand farming,” said Ryan.

Adam adds, “We have worked with Ryan for a while now and he knows our operation and is always looking out for opportunities for us. It works well. Our aim is to run a business that is profitable and sustainable. We fine tune how we do things, for example, lifting the lamb and beef weights year-on-year. There is always something we can do better. We try and do everything to our best ability and be proactive. We plan well ahead and work backwards. Our approach is we can control what happens on farm, but we can’t control external factors such as the lamb schedule and the weather. We farm for a drought. When we have favourable weather conditions, we have a good year. Last year for example, because of the irrigation, we were able to get through the drought and hold stock through until it rained. This meant we didn’t have to store stock. We have good access to water now, so we will continue to build up capital stock numbers and seek improvements across our business,” said Adam.

 

Pictured: PGG Wrightson Senior Livestock Agent Ryan Dowling views Creekside Farms’ storage pond with Adam and Juls Lindsay, along with Sarge, in the Maniototo Plains in July 2018

Keeping the fairways green

06 April 2018
With the slowing of irrigation development in the rural sector in New Zealand over the last two to three years, the PGG Wrightson Water team turned its focus on growing other areas of their business including irrigation systems for golf courses.

Advanced Irrigation Systems (AIS) – a trading division of PGG Wrightson Limited – provides water system design, infrastructure implementation and service support to a range of customers including golf clubs around New Zealand. As a result of the innovative technology and highly valued work the team have been delivering, their bid for the redevelopment project at the prestigious Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club (RAGGC) was successful.

The specialised golf irrigation system that the team is installing at RAGGC is the Rain Bird® Integrated Control™ (IC) system. AIS has already installed the system at two golf courses, with four more to come online in the near future. 

A key aspect of the system is the integrated control software package which allows our customers to turn individual sprinklers on and off via a central control computer or internet enabled devices such as smart phones or tablets. The highly sophisticated IC™ system has advanced diagnostic capabilities to troubleshoot field issues with pinpoint accuracy.

The RAGGC project’s earthworks commenced in September 2017 and the project is expected to be completed by October 2021. Leading the AIS project team is South Island Manager and irrigation golf specialist Paul Mooney. 

Paul said, “It is a privilege to be working on this major development at one of the most prestigious golf clubs in Australasia. Our team was delighted when the project bid was accepted. Now the hard work begins.



“AIS are New Zealand’s sole authorised Rain Bird® distributor for golf irrigation products, which provide automatically controlled irrigation systems for heavy turf applications such as golf and race courses,” said Paul.

Paul and his team work closely with RAGGC Director of Agronomy Mark Hooker and his team, as well as the Nicklaus Design Associate onsite, Paul Garvie.

Mark said, “Our objective is to develop a golf course that is comparable with the best Australasian courses and to produce high quality playing surfaces for our members all year round. We are pleased to be working with AIS to be able to deliver on this.

“It is therefore important to install an excellent irrigation system. Their system met our requirements. The water supply system is highly customised and will provide smart technology to address the unique soil, sand and grass (turf) combinations on each hole,” said Mark.

In addition the RAGGC will install an integrated weather station and soil moisture sensors that will help with irrigation scheduling to avoid over or under watering on the golf course. Another integrated feature that will assist with the efficient use of water is the Rain Bird® Smart Pump technology. The pump technology will help RAGGC maximise pump use and improve water window efficiency, which in turn will decrease energy consumption.

The $60 million plus project involves three separate contractors managing earthworks, drainage and irrigation. Once these aspects of the project are completed, then the naked soil is handed back to RAGGC to plant and grow in the course. 

Mark sums up, “While the project involves three contractors, they work closely together as a team – sharing information and agreeing on goals which I believe will result in a better outcome for us and our members. An excellent irrigation system is key to a top performing golf course. If you get that part right and take the time to plan and install carefully, this goes a long way and enables our agronomy team time to focus on preparing top quality turf surfaces.”

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