26 March 2014, 12:00AM
Centre pivot saving time and money on ‘Binda’, Narromine
A new 3-span, 196-metre centre pivot is saving time and money for Narromine farmers Ian and Andrew Roberts.The Roberts family operates a mixed farming enterprise on ‘Binda’ and ‘Wogogy’ and in September 2013 purchased a centre pivot from TEAM Irrigation.
Since TEAM Irrigation installed the centre pivot the Roberts’ irrigation power bill has halved, they have more flexibility regarding when they can water and how much water they can apply, and they’re also saving an hour and a half in labour each day.
“We run a mixed farming enterprise, growing crops, producing prime lambs and cattle, and also buying in trade lambs and steers to fatten,” Ian said.
“We’ve traditionally had about 40ha under irrigation and we use that country to produce irrigated lucerne and other forage crops for our livestock enterprise.
“We started out with hand-shift irrigation in the 1960s, then we put wheels under them in the ‘70s and ‘80s, progressed to a big four-inch travelling irrigator, and now we have the pivot. It’s been a natural progression.”
Ian and Andrew made the change to centre pivot irrigation after working with Bill Williamson from Productive Water Services and applying for funding through the NSW DPI’s Sustaining the Basin: Irrigated Farm Modernisation program.
The program required them to sell about 25% of their water allocation to the government, with funds received to be spent on improving water use efficiency on farm.
“I approached Craig Chandler at TEAM Irrigation for a quote to install a centre pivot which I then included with our application,” Ian said.
“Once we were approved, TEAM Irrigation just came in and did the whole job very professionally.
“They erected the pivot, modified the pump site and put a new motor in the pump.
“It was all assembled and running within a week.
“Since then we’ve had a couple of little things that have needed adjusting and they’ve come and done it straight away.”
Ian says the centre pivot has a number of benefits over their old travelling irrigator.
“The main benefit is the saving in power bills,” Ian said.
“It takes a lot of horsepower to drive the travelling irrigator, but the centre pivot runs at low pressure.
“When they installed the pivot, TEAM Irrigation also changed the motor on our pump from 45 kilowatt to 23 kilowatt.
“It also takes less time to water the paddock now, because the water application is so precise and there is less water lost to wind. This means we now do all our irrigating at night, using off-peak electricity.
“Between the smaller pump motor and the off-peak electricity, we’ve cut our power requirements in half.”
Ian said the pivot also provided more flexibility in how the water was applied.
“Centre pivot irrigation is a much more flexible and targeted way of watering,” he said.
“If you only want to put a few millimetres on at a time, you can do that.
“Over Christmas, when there was no rain, we were able to ‘water up’ our crop. We basically gave it 5 or 6mm every night to get the seedlings up.
“Over the course of the summer we used about 25 megalitres on the crop. We would have used double that for less effect with the travelling irrigator.”
The other benefit has been the saving in labour, which has been cut from an hour and a half to five minutes.
“We used to disconnect the irrigator in the centre of the paddock, wind up the hose, then drive it around to the other end of the paddock with the tractor and set it all up again going the other way,” Ian said.
“That used to take about an hour and a half a day.
“Now it takes about five minutes to go and flick the switch.”