September is the right time to check your equipment and irrigation schedules are up to scratch for the coming irrigation season.
Poorly operating irrigation systems cost time and water efficiency, not to mention the additional cost to production. Here are some simple actions you can take to ensure your irrigation season goes as smoothly as possible.
1. CHECK FOR LEAKS
Water not irrigating the right place is water wasted. This also applies to end gun settings and broken sprinklers.
2. GET YOUR CHECKLIST OUT
IrrigationNZ has a complete pre-season checklist available for members or different irrigation systems you can use to check your systems are working correctly.
Checking pressure and flow is one part of the list which can be overlooked. They are generally affected by the wearing of pump impellers over time. Checking that your flow and pressures are within 10% of operating design is critical to application efficiency. The checklist covers a range of other points. You can print the checklist out, sign and date it and keep it as evidence for your Farm Environment Plan or farm records. You can download a checklist online at www.irrigationnz.co.nz under â€˜Practical Resourcesâ€™ then â€˜Risk Advice/ Start Up.â€™
3. DO A BUCKET TEST
This lets you know how much water you are applying and how even your application is. Knowing how much water you are applying is critical for irrigation scheduling. Improving the uniformity of application will result in more of your irrigation being beneficially used.
You can download a free â€˜Check-It Bucket Test Appâ€™ from Google Play or the App Store.
4. CHECK THE TRACK
Take the time to walk the irrigator track to check its clear of any potential hazards or obstructions like trees or fences. This could save you money and avoid your irrigator being out of action.
5. INVEST IN SOIL MOISTURE MONITORING AND WEATHER FORECASTS
An efficient irrigation system is only as good as the scheduling of the irrigation. Knowing when to irrigate and how much to apply will save both time (irrigation days throughout the season) and money (pumping costs per day). Linking soil moisture monitoring with weather forecasts will allow any rainfall during the irrigation season to be taken advantage of.
6. MAKE A PLAN
Now is the time to look at your seasonal plan. How will you cope if you get a dry season? Does you consent have adaptive management conditions? How would this affect your irrigation scheduling? Identify your higher production areas and your lower productions areas. Does your system have the capability to isolate areas of lower performance if the season gets tight and focus on irrigating your more productive areas?
7. UPSKILL YOUR STAFF
If you have any new staff on board you need to provide training so they understand how to correctly schedule and operate irrigation equipment to ensure you optimise water use, avoid damage to expensive equipment and meet your health and safety requirements. We have a range of training events this spring â€“ see www.irrigationnz.co.nz/events