Farmers grow their business with irrigation

June 12, 2017

Farmers grow their business with irrigation

A new scheme gives farmers access to water from the nearby river and allows them to irrigate their land. The sustainable solution secures the future development of farming in New Zealand’s Canterbury Plains.

Rodney Booth is a farmer. Together with Ross, Rowen and Margaret Manson, he runs Dunfield Farming in Horotata - a good 40 minutes’ drive from Christchurch in
New Zealand’s South Island. In a quite remote area. The only source of water
comes from the local rural water supply, and is used for household activities
and water for the livestock. As ground water is a scarce resource every property
can only access a limited amount of water. Covering an area of 400 hectares and
having no possibility of irrigating has made it difficult for Dunfield Farming to
reach full potential. For instance, the number of lambs and cattle the farm can
send to the slaughterhouse has therefore always depended on the course of
nature.

“The uncertainty about how much crop we can produce for the animals, and the fact that it has been very difficult to tell the slaughterhouse how much we could allocate to them, have been the two most difficult things to tackle in my 25 years as a farmer,” Rodney Booth says.

But last year things changed for Dunfield Farming, when Central Plains Water Limited finalized the first part of an irrigation scheme in the Canterbury Plains. Owned by shareholders like Rodney Booth and his fellow farmers, the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme now provides reliable and cost effective water.

Water from the river

The first stage of the project covers approximately 20,000 hectares of farmland in an area bordered by the Rakaia and Hororata Rivers. An intake at the Rakaia River direct water into a 17-kilometre-long gravity fed canal. A piped reticulation system
distributes water to the area, providing water to the farm gate at a pressure
of around four bar. 44 Grundfos NKG pumps divided over 10 pumping stations have been installed to boost line pressures. Central Plains General Manager of
Operations Mark McKenzie and his team have had a close working relationship
with Grundfos – especially after the pumps have been installed.

“Grundfos has delivered reliable products that run smoothly and the company has provided us with knowledge and technical support, when we tuned the whole system. It has in general been a steep learning curve for us and that is one reason why our partnership with Grundfos has worked so well,” he says.

Account Manager Michael Blackmore from Grundfos has been responsible for the project and he highlights the strong relationship.

“We have listened to the challenges that Central Plains Water Limited has experienced and helped them along the way, so we together have found a good solution. Having the possibility to play a role in this kind of development for the region is amazing, and I am glad to see that our products make a difference,” he says.

A bright future

A pumping station was built on the land owned by Dunfield Farming and the shareholders have only positive things to say about the irrigation scheme.

“It is very reliable and it has helped us expand the business. The pumps run smoothly and deliver the right pressure for the irrigation system,” Rodney Booth says.

Now 11 smart irrigators of different sizes cover the land and make sure that the farmers can grow exactly the crops they need for the animals. With the new solution the farm has doubled the quantity of lambs and cattle – this year they will send approximately 4,000 lambs and 1,000 head of cattle to the slaughterhouse.

“Before we were relying on nature and the uncertainty about that has been very hard. Being a farmer planning is everything and the new way of running the farm is less stressful and the new investments in irrigators, paddocks and weighing machines to handle more livestock are a very exciting step for us,” he says.

Whether more farmers in the region in the future will benefit from Grundfos pumps only time will tell. Currently the second stage of the Central Plains Water enhancement project is underway and construction has commenced on a smaller sub-scheme. When the entire scheme is finished it will deliver water to approximately 45,000 hectares of farmland.


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