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Irrigation solutions for South Island Dairy Farm

Irrigation solutions for South Island Dairy Farm

System overview:

Maheno - Timaru

The Maheno Farms Ltd (MFL) system has several specifically developed features to assist in easier on-farm operations while aiming to make use of the valuable resources they have available.

Irrigation solutions:

1) Water meters have been is installed in most pump sites of MFL as required by consent.  Water metering is seen as a compliance issue for most farms, MFL have understood the benefit of installing accurate meters to understand water movement, water budgeting, system servicing and controls.  Some of the meters installed report remotely via and internet connection and are sent directly to the Otago Regional council for compliance.

2) MFL has invested heavily in on- and off-farm water resource equipment, to maximise this soil moisture systems are currently on order for various areas of the farm. The farm has a minimum of 5 distinct soil types all subject to different seasonal water requirements – from heavy clay soils, to light river silts, and anaerobic winter soils which offers on-farm management challenges.

Maheno - Timaru3) The variation of soils across the block we considered by MFL in coordination with WaterForce when designing their system.  To make use of the low water volumes over the past few years this has been prioritized, water is distributed as per the soils and production requirements rather than just by a blanket 4mm/day scenario. With application rates varying across the blocks from 3mm/day to 5mm/day gross, water is also able to be shared around the blocks and pivot flow rates increased or decreased through multi nozzle packs on some areas allowing water to be utilized more efficiently.

4) Effluent disposal has been a great public issue of recent years.  MFL’s new dairy conversions uses a two pond system for their dairy sheds, this system allows good utilization of dairy shed effluent waste through either centre pivot irrigators or pod irrigation. This greatly reduces the environmental impact of the effluent distribution over other spreading means and allows the best use of the fluid through the various areas of the farms.  Effluent is also sent from the original dairy farm (Willows) over to the newer Poplars dairy farm, this allows greater use of the FDE while the Willows farm is not subject to having to spread effluent when they are at field capacity, reducing the environmental risks.

5) MFL run a complex and ever developing irrigation system from primary river takes, to NOIC irrigation flows through to high flow river takes and storage.  As part of this development WaterForce has developed an on-farm control system to allow ease of control and utilization of equipment.  This system will tie together the water flow and soil moisture information, pump pressures, available water source details and all pump operating conditions to allow centralized control and monitoring of the system.  These controls allow ease of on-farm management, tracing of resource usage (through power monitoring and water monitoring) and irrigation efficiency tuning (maximising L/s/Kw) to ensure the best water source is being used when available which in turn can minimize power costs, efficiently utilize the water that is available, and allow strategic control and operation to maximize grass growth with minimal inputs.