World First in Dairy Farm Irrigation
Alan Cooper of Wanganui may well be the first dairy farmer in the world to use pop-up sprinklers for irrigation. Alan chose this system to overcome the challenges of topography. Now his idea is really catching on.
Being coastal means a lot of Alan’s property was once dunes. Like many coastal farmers, Alan went looking for ways to improve the productivity of the dune areas. Flattening dunes is not an option because it removes topsoil, so Alan needed to keep the contour and irrigate for production improvement.
Traditional farm irrigation systems could not cope with the contour. ADL’s solution was pop-up sprinklers normally used on golf courses and other specialist turf applications. This had many advantages, including fertigation, giving him even more ability to renovate his poorer producing land.
ADL and Alan both had concerns that the sprinklers might not stand up to the demands of the job – especially the hard time given to them by Alan’s stock. Alan trialled a couple of sprinklers in his paddocks before committing to the system and was relieved to find they stood up to the task.
Alan has now had this system installed for three years and has never suffered any stock damage. The system operates via a controller at his home and is usually operated at night when the coastal winds are lower. Alan first installed the system on his flat land and is now extending it to take his more marginal land into high production.
With capital costs in the order of $10k per hectare, this system required a large investment, but has relatively low running costs and needs virtually no labour input. The system is paying for itself through productivity gains. Alan is pleased with the results. “The main thing I like about the system is the ability to run in conjunction with normal farm activities. There are no restrictions with stock movements or tractors,” he says.
Farmer: Alan Cooper