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Irrigator with uniform disposal rate

Irrigator with uniform disposal rate
AgFirst Engineering director Davieth Verheij and the Weta travelling effluent irrigator.

Finding solutions to the challenges that modern dairy farmers face is the focus of AgFirst Engineering Waikato.

Director and agricultural engineering consultant Davieth Verheij says that farmers want to comply with regulations but require assistance on what they need to do and how to do it in the most economical way possible that will work with their farming system.

That’s why AgFirst Engineering Waikato, founded five years ago by Davieth, specialises in rural water supply and dairy effluent systems.

In order to find the best systems available in the world Davieth brought back ideas and technology from overseas including developing a relationship with one of the world’s largest irrigation product manufacturer in Italy.

Part of that relationship has resulted in the development of the Weta Irrigator, the first ever travelling effluent irrigator that will apply the same nutrients no matter where it is on the farm.

The traditional way to make the most of the nutrients as well as reduce environmental impact has been adequately sized dairy effluent storage.

But Davieth says that while this provides the ability to defer irrigation it still needs to be applied to land and it is this task that requires the greatest amount of management and will be the decider as to whether the effluent system is making the farmer money or costing them money. An irrigator capable of a uniform rate of dispersal is the key.

In order to achieve this the travel speed selection must be accurate and the irrigator must able to maintain its travel speed, which is why the Weta Irrigator is driven by the flow of the effluent and automatically maintains its travel speed and uniformity of nutrient application along its travel path. The secret is in the mechanics of the system.

While traditional irrigator winch drums are driven by rotating booms, cams, spring loaded teeth, gearboxes, chains, bearings and pulleys the Weta directly rotates a hydraulic pump significantly decreasing maintenance and greasing.

A speed sensor mounted on the winch rope continuously measures the travel speed. The travel speed is selected by the operator in m/hr by a simple dial or digital display.

The Weta has a solar powered speed controller, which monitors the travel speed and controls a turbine by-pass valve and fail safe shut off valve.

The turbine by-pass valve is what controls the travel speed. Once the selected travel speed has been achieved the remaining effluent flow is by-passed around the turbine direct to the rain gun nozzle.

If the irrigator slows down due to a hill or increased drag on the hose the speed regulation valve adjusts to put more flow through the turbine to provide the additional energy required to maintain it’s the travel speed. The result is a uniform application of nutrients.

Ease of monitoring and proof of application are two other key benefits. The effluent irrigator has been designed to enable the addition of GPS tracking and high/low pressure safety.

Pump starts and machine operation can be activated using a cell phone, which will receive text alerts if a problem occurs.

Davieth says the new Weta Irrigator has been so well received it is now being used at the Massey University Research Farm and on many Landcorp farms as well as a strong uptake from farmers throughout New Zealand.

“We’ve got a robust product that can bolt onto any irrigator and show how much is going on and at what rate, how full the pond is, how many days left of storage in the pond, and it’s all right there on a smartphone or computer.

“It’s exciting to be able to solve problems like this for our customers so they can run their businesses smarter without hassle or worry.”

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