Irrigation New Zealand

In association with Ballance agri-nutrients 

IrrigationNZ: Innovation Award

IrrigationNZ in association with Ballance Agri-Nutrients appreciates the brainpower that goes into creating inventive irrigation tools and techniques, and we want them to be recognised.

After judging three finalists were selected and meant to be honoured at our 2020 Conference however, because this event was cancelled due to COVID not allowing it to go ahead, these prizes were awarded at the recent IrrigationNZ AGM.

A $2,500 cash prize was awarded for 'The Best Innovation, Discovery or Achievement that makes a positive contribution, impact or benefit to irrigation in NZ'.


Aqualinc - N-wise Irrigation

A pilot desktop study led by Dr John Bright of Aqualinc has found that changing irrigation scheduling rules can significantly reduce nutrient losses. Dr Bright has decades of experience when it comes to irrigation management and was approached by the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand to carry out this study. “The study is prompted by the obvious environmental aspect that needs to be considered in day to day farming, particularly the need to reduce N losses.” The study was carried out on 12 Canterbury dairy farms. The current practice was to irrigate when soil moisture drops below 50% available to the plant and to apply enough water to refill to a target level of 90% of the full point, often higher. The study systematically examined the effects on production, drainage and Nitrogen loss to water of varying the irrigation trigger and target levels. “We were particularly interested in the effects of reducing the soil moisture trigger level to significantly lower levels than current practice during spring and autumn, and of not refilling the soil profile as much as is usual practice.” The aim is to increase the soil’s capacity to utilise rainfall to reduce the risk of drainage and N leaching. By allowing the soil to dry out more in spring and autumn and raising soil water content to no more than 80% of the full point, nitrogen loss to water was reduced by 27%, on average. The range across the case study farms was 4% to 58%. Dr Bright said it was about being “smarter about things in spring and autumn. . . essentially it’s as simple as varying irrigation triggers and targets month by month as set out in a table of values.”

Marlborough District Council – e Water

Water is Marlborough’s most significant resource. The district relies on adequate supplies of freshwater for a range of sectors. Most water resources in Marlborough are at, or nearing, a state of full allocation. A review of Marlborough’s Resource Management plans identified the inability to allocate water beyond these limits would create a significant constraint to future growth. To facilitate this the council outlined an approach to Ministry for the Environment using the proposed water framework; this resulted in a partnership project that the parties believed “had potential wide reaching implications for water management in New Zealand”, after a constructive design period eWater was developed. Marlborough’s rivers and aquifers provide water for more than 1600 freshwater permits; the system was designed so that permit holders and registered individuals can find out more about water usage so we can all play a role in managing the region's water supply. Permit holders are required to provide to Council specific water metering data. Data is used within the system to understand and manage the pressures and demands on Marlborough’s water. Users can access the system data and check water records at a glance, by logging in they can see how much has been used to date and how much is left this month, or this year based on their individual consented allocation. This system can determine your irrigation status, whether you are irrigating or when you can irrigate. The site also shows any restrictions on your permit including when you can take water, flow reductions and cut-offs. When Marlborough’s water resources are fully allocated, the council cannot issue any more permits. However, many allocations are not being fully utilised. The provision of water use information in real time will enable water users to identify unutilised water relative to water permit entitlements. To help ensure our available water is being efficiently utilised, the council is proposing to introduce an Enhanced Water Transfer scheme. This would allow water to be temporarily transferred between permit holders in the same freshwater management unit; the system has been designed to deliver this functionality digitally, making water management more efficient (subject to planning provision decisions). eWater was designed with users in mind and as a result will work on any mobile device or desktop allowing users instant access to information from the field or home, enabling informed and smarter decision making of our precious water resources.

Qtech: Water-Insight

After over five years in the making, Water Insight (a brand of Qtech) can now offer a complete Irrigation Management System known as IMS. Launched in 2019, IMS is a state-of-the-art solution that integrates both monitoring and control into one platform. Unique and intelligent sprinkler controllers are placed at each fixed post or pod and can be managed remotely using the new cloud-based interface. A mesh radio network means that these devices can operate over large land areas and on terrain that would typically defeat traditional irrigation methods. IMS includes real-time maps and a communication service that sends out alerts to problems, ensuring the farmer can respond quickly to any issues, streamline operations and reduce service costs. Sensors can also be integrated into IMS to provide farmers with more informed decision-making capability. Moving forward Water-Insight aimed to create tighter decision support which would allow for greater autonomous capability, develop additional sensor types and provide more advanced workflow/operational support.