5 Types of Irrigation – Kiwi cattle yards

5 Types of Irrigation

There is a good chance that this topic will cross your mind when you see your precious pasture start to brown off this summer.  

Though irrigation is usually present on dairy or cropping farms, a small setup on any property can dramatically increase grass growth in summer. Here are 5 types of irrigation in use on NZ farms.

1.       Centre pivot irrigators have recently become very popular with larger properties, however they do require a flattish farm and substantial capital and water. The advantage of this system is they are fully automated and very accurate with little water wastage.

2.       Rotorainer irrigators used to be the mainstay for irrigation in NZ; these are large rotary type irrigators that can water up to a 100m wide strip 400-600mm long every 24 hours. This type of system requires a shift every day that may take up to 1 hour. Some larger properties with 8-10 of these irrigators will have a full time employee whose sole job is to shift these irrigators. Another disadvantage of these is mechanical breakdowns, though they only turn slowly, they do have a lot of momentum and if they hit something solid, a tree of fence, they can do a lot of damage.  This type of irrigator is now becoming superseded by center pivot irrigators.    

3.       Boarder dyke irrigation was the first type of irrigation in use. It involves water being channeled down water races that have gates positioned with timers on them that drop down at set times to shut off flow and flood the paddock. This system was prominent in Canterbury but due to the high-labour needed and high wastage of water they are being phased out for spray type irrigators.

4.       K-line is the cheapest type of irrigation to install.  It consists of 5 or so black ‘pods’ connected with an alkathene hose. The pods contain a small sprinkler that irrigate a 15m circle. Each line of pods will irrigate 1 hectare and are easily shifted by an atv. 

5.       Lateral sprinklers are similar to k line but only have on sprinkler on each line. These run at a higher pressure than the k line and water a larger area of about a 25m circle, these are shifted every day with an atv.

For those of you with smaller lifestyle blocks I'd suggest that either option 4 or 5 would be a good option to look into for keeping your pastures greener for longer. 

Cheers, Euan