‘The equipment we manufacture has been designed by a farmer for a farmer’
Ashburton’s Rainer Irrigation Ltd celebrated 30 years in business this year, a milestone that owner-operator Gavin Briggs puts down to understanding farming from the inside out.
“The equipment we manufacture has been designed by a farmer, for a farmer.
If I’m not happy using it on my own place, then I’m not going to sell it.”
Gavin co-owns Rainer Irrigation with his brother Rodger, but the family connections don’t end there.
Multiple generations have a hand in the company, with Gavin and Rodger’s father Les and Gavin’s son Sam also on board.
Born and bred in Ashburton, the Briggs’s have a good handle on the challenges that are part of the farming life.
“We cater for the realties of farming, so we’re not straight out ‘business first’. We’re in it for the long haul and we know what other farmers have to contend with, because we’ve been there.”
Rainer Irrigation employs sixty-five staff in a range of roles, including a pump installation team, diggers, cable layers, electricians, and a service and maintenance team that ensure their irrigation systems operate at maximum efficiency.
They also employ designers and programmers for hydraulic analysis.
In addition, the company employs a dozen full-time staff in its Ashburton factory.
It’s here that they produce the Roto Rainer, a leading boom irrigation system designed by the company over 40 years ago.
Over 5,500 Roto Rainers are in operation on farm, making them a familiar sight across the country.
The same factory also produces the Briggs model 10 and 15 effluent spreaders for the New Zealand market, and for international export.
A new production development is the Vibra Screen, a pre-treatment system for managing dairy shed waste.
The stainless steel vibrating screen separates solids from effluent and wash down water, down to 1mm compressible solids.
The screen can process up to 15 litres per second, and is able to be retrofitted to existing dairy sheds, significantly reducing set up costs.
This technology has the potential to turn a waste product into a resource.
“We can test the green water, and add nutrients to make a customized fertilizer. It’s about taking what the cowshed produces and using it as an as-set that can go back on the land.”
As well as selling their own custom-designed equipment, Rainer Irrigation supplies pivots and lateral irrigation systems from US company Zimmatic.
These comprehensive options allow Rainer to design a tailored solution for individual farms.
“We can put the right equipment into the right position, instead of the customer buying something off the shelf and trying to make it fit their situation.”
Gavin has recently attended the Mystery Creek field days, where he says that the big developments are technological.
“Pretty soon the average cocky will be looking at aerial photographs showing them what different paddocks need.”
He believes this technology will help farmers to monitor and manage water and inputs in a more environmentally – and economically – sustainable way.
At the same time, Gavin says the amount of data required for compliance is a major drain on time and resources for those in the industry.
“There’s a whole generation coming up that might peel out of farming because they can’t stomach the amount of paperwork required.”
Within his own team, however, Gavin sees a younger generation with the commitment required to get the job done.
“The thing that can hold businesses back in Ashburton is the struggle to find good honest toilers. But a third of our staff have been with us for over ten years. We’re lucky to have them.”
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