Friday 24 April 2015

Variable Rate Irrigation Visionaries - Brian and Jo Bosch

As promised we take a visit to South Wairarapa where the first Growsmart Precision VRI system was installed by dairy farmers Brian and Jo Bosch. The system helps them to use their water more efficiently, saving electricity, track maintenance and reducing the number of lame cows in their herd.

The couple, who have 1150 cows, producing 400,000kg MS annually off their 320ha milking platform, have three centre pivots irrigating 210ha, one of which has VRI installed.

Overlooking part of the Bosch's dairy farm in South Wairarapa
(Photo courtesy of Rebecca Harper)
The Growsmart Precision VRI system was installed in 2008 by Precision Irrigation, now known as Lindsay NZ.

“The reason I was keen on getting into it was we were having issues when the pivots crossed the tracks. We’d have a nice crowned track and water would run off into the water table, causing bad pivot ruts,” Brian says.

Not only did this hinder the performance of the pivots but it meant high track maintenance costs and increased numbers of lame cows.

With the VRI installed, Brian is able to turn the pivot off as it goes over the tracks. “Now the tracks are dry and we have no damage. There’s no damage to the cows’ feet.”

The Bosch's also have a large pond under the pivot and a number of open drains. They are able to turn the pivot off when it is over these as well, meaning the water is not pumped to waste.

“I worked out that the tracks, pond and drains probably add up to 10% of the land under that pivot, so we can go and irrigate 10% more productive land now. It actually costs us to irrigate the track because we get more lame cows and do more track maintenance.”

“They (Lindsay NZ) put the programme in and I haven’t fiddled with it too much. I recently started upgrading to the latest version and they provide training for that.

“There’s been no maintenance, this upgrade is the first money I’ve spent on it since installation – it’s just the software that needs upgrading, the hardware is fine. It’s just worked.”

Brian Bosch has plenty to smile about as the Growsmart Precision VRI system has been working a treat since being installed back in 2008. Resulting in significant savings in track maintenance costs, reduced cow lameness issues and the ability to spread his irrigation water further.
(Photo courtesy of Rebecca Harper)

Installing VRI has been a worthwhile exercise, Brian says, and he can see the future benefits too. “Going forward with the council, and for your own peace of mind, you can show you are using water efficiently on your farm and prove to council you’re not wasting water.”

Post bought to you by Sarah Elliot from Lindsay NZ