DEPARTMENT: Water Use and Irrigation | Irrigation Introduction
Irrigation systems are the dominant feature of most new dairy farms in New Zealand. In this introductory discussion on irrigation, we talk with Jim Hargreaves from water force. Every farm is different and you will need to work with expert advisors to determine the right irrigation system for your farm. There are a range of options from centre pivots, travelling irrigators, rotor-rainers and k-lines to long line guns. Centre pivots are the system of choice for most new dairy farms, often with pods or K-line in the corners. Despite higher up-front investment centre pivots are highly efficient in terms of labour and electricity once operational. They apply the water very accurately which means they produce the greatest return on electricity and water inputs in terms of kilograms of milk solids produced. Factors to consider when designing your irrigation system include availability of water in terms of quantity and time of year, shape and contour of the farm, soil type, shed location, plans for future development. Jim suggests that its useful to talk to other local farmers about their irrigation solutions but it is essential to get an experienced irrigation consultant involved early in your project.