Farm advice: Get ready for irrigation season

Simple ways to ensure your irrigation season goes as smoothly as possible

September is the right time to check that your equipment and irrigation schedules are up to scratch for the upcoming irrigation season.

Poorly operating irrigation systems cost time and water efficiency and additional cost to production. Here are some simple actions you can take to ensure your irrigation season goes as smoothly as possible.


Check for leaks

Water not irrigating the right place is water wasted. This also applies to end gun settings and broken sprinklers.

Get your checklist out

IrrigationNZ has a complete pre-season checklist for 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 irrigationnz.co.nz under ‘Practical Resources’ then ‘Risk Advice/Start Up.’

Do a bucket test

This lets you know how much water you are applying and how 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 ‘Check-It Bucket Test App’ from Google Play or the App Store.

Check the track

Take the time to walk the irrigator track to check it’s clear of any potential hazards or obstructions such as trees or fences. This could save you money and avoid your irrigator being out of action.

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.

Make a plan

Now is the time to look at your seasonal plan. How will you cope if you get a dry season? Does your 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?

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. 

For more details, visit irrigationnz.co.nz/events.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend