Reaching dry patches in solid set irrigation

January 7 2022 - 10:00pm
The main saving for a Mount Mee dairy has been the increase in irrigatable area.

A Mount Mee dairy has implemented an irrigation energy management opportunity from the energy audit report it received through the Energy Savers Plus Program Extension.

The business received a dairy shed energy audit by AgVet Energy, as well as an irrigation energy audit by The Energy Guys, both engaged by QDO.



Replacing the pump, changing the pump location to shorten the mainline and changing sprinklers in the solid set irrigation system has increased the pumping, water, and labour efficiency.

eastAUSmilk project officer Jade Chan and I tested the irrigation to evaluate the actual energy savings and outcomes achieved since implementing a recommendation from the energy audit.

The previous irrigation system did not perform well, and uniformity of the irrigation was very poor, with 20 per cent of the area receiving nil or minimal irrigation applications. Now the dry area has been reduced to just 2pc with the wetted diameter almost doubling from 7.2 to 14m.

The catch can data shows the distribution uniformity has significantly improved from under 14pc to over 62pc.

Similarly, the coefficient of uniformity has also been improved from 43.5pc to now over 78pc.

The main saving for the business has been the increase in irrigatable area and improved uniformity of water application. Across the 4.4ha an increased in pasture production of about 18 tonnes of dry matter annually could be expected.

The new system almost halved the pumping time, however, uses 541kWh more energy increasing the business's electricity bill by about $122 annually.

The total expenditure for the business to implement the upgrades was just over $30,000. Valuing the increased pasture production at $7500 and minus the $122 increase in electricity bill the calculated payback period of this investment is 4.1 years with a return on investment of 24pc.

- Torie Harrison, eastAUSmilk project officer

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