Simplot and TEAM Irrigation: a model of best practice
Simplot Australia’s NSW Agricultural Manager Evan Brown wants the company’s Bathurst and Cowra farms to be models of best practice for growing sweet corn, and he says TEAM Irrigation is helping deliver that ideal system.
“Simplot’s goal is for the farms to be an example of best practice crop production for our contracted growers,” Evan said.
“TEAM Irrigation is helping us achieve that from the irrigation point of view.”
Simplot has two sweet corn farms in the central west: the Cowra property, which is 280ha and watered by two centre pivots, including one new 6 span Zimmatic; and the Bathurst farm, which is 300ha and watered by seven centre pivots, including two new Zimmatic centre pivots and another 5 span pivot installed in January 2014.
The company has a long-term replacement plan which will see all the older, non-Zimmatic pivots replaced by TEAM Irrigation over the next four years.
“I work with 23 sweet corn and beetroot growers from Queensland down to Swan Hill, and they use various brands of pivots,” Evan said.
“So I spend a lot of time talking to people about irrigation, how their systems are designed and whether their pivots match their water requirements.
“It is crucial that your irrigators meet your crops’ water requirements and the Zimmatic certainly does that for us.
“It’s also crucial that you have the pumping capacity and TEAM Irrigation provides that service, too.
“Craig Chandler (TEAM Irrigation Director) can work out the water requirements of different crops and then ensure you have the pumping capacity and the right irrigator.
“There is no point putting in an irrigation system and then under-watering – it has to be spot on.”
Simplot chose to install Poly Lined Zimmatic centre pivots on the Bathurst farm in response to its unique water supply situation.
The farm reuses wastewater from the Simplot sweet corn processing facility and, despite being treated and filtered, the water contains fine particle trash from the corn.
“The key for us is to have pivots that are sturdy enough to handle that sort of water, which is why we’re slowly installing all Poly Lined Zimmatic pivots at Bathurst,” Evan said.
“Our older pivots have trouble coping with the factory water, so Craig has also helped us select and change the nozzles and regulators on the old pivots.”
Evan says he has been very happy with the Zimmatic centre pivots’ reliability and cost-effectiveness.
“The newer pivots are a dream to run,” he said.
“They’re all electric with a telemetry system that utilises 3G technology to operate and monitor the irrigators, which I can also access from my phone.
“They’re cheaper to run than diesel and require less labour.”
Evan also appreciates TEAM Irrigation’s prompt service response in emergency situations.
“Last summer one of our old pivots collapsed at Cowra and TEAM Irrigation was able to source a new Zimmatic centre pivot and have it operating within two weeks, which allowed us to save about 50% of the crop,” Evan said.
“Breakdown and emergency work are a real feature and they always have parts, even for our older centre pivots.
“There’s not a lot of companies that can provide that sort of service.”