Business News

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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Drainage & Irrigation

50 years of research and development

The hose reel system developed by Bauer around 50 years ago has been improved, refined and expanded in terms of scale and capacity into today’s comprehensive Rainstar range, comprising almost 130 model variations to suit small- and large-scale crop irrigation requirements.

The Rainstar T series is a compact range of universal reel irrigators with integrated hydraulic leg supports, two-wheel chassis with adjustable wheel track, and the energy-saving TVR 18 and TVR 20 drive turbines operating through a Bauer four-speed gearbox.

At the top end of the scale, the Bauer professional Rainstar E series covers a wide range of high-performance outputs, culminating in the E55 XL that can cover up to 7.7ha per run and twice that area over two runs by rotating the turntable reel from a central position in the field.

The turbine’s design and precision assembly ensures it operates with very little water pressure loss, while the Vario variable output nozzle exploits pressure available by delivering full stream flow over the turbine’s impeller at all settings. In combination with the computer control system installed, the variable water nozzle maintains a constant hose retraction speed from the beginning to the end of the strip.

This robust hardware, which includes a fully galvanised chassis and Bauer’s own PE pipe with high tensile strength and shape stability, is operated through cutting-edge electronic control and monitoring systems, including the Ecostar 4300 and 6000 on-board controllers, and Bauer’s SmartRain online irrigation management system.

With SmartRain, reel moves can be anticipated, scheduled and handled in a timely manner; similarly, with alerts actively issued whenever any problems arise, remedial action can be taken promptly to minimise downtime and disruption to irrigation schedules.


“Remote monitoring of our Rainstar irrigators and diesel pumps can save growers and managers a lot of time while bringing greater efficiency to the management of these systems,” says Bauer UK & Ireland sales manager, Adrian Tindall.

“It also enables managers to focus on other tasks safe in the knowledge that their irrigation systems are being monitored at all times while also recording valuable information.”

This element of SmartRain automatically saves water usage records and details of individual irrigation system operations, providing data on soil conditions, soil moisture levels, and the size and shape of different fields, and enabling managers to optimise water-use while minimising operating costs.

SmartRain requires a solar-powered GPS controller, mounted on the chassis of a Rainstar reel irrigator or the Universal PRO-G control unit on the central tower of a centre-pivot system, while the app is available for Apple iOS and Android devices.

“On farms with multiple irrigators, status reports from all machines can be received by whoever is in overall charge to help organise day-to-day operation of irrigation equipment and staff,” explains Adrian.

“But, to avoid information overload amongst individual team members, their app can be set to receive status messages only from the particular machines they look after; a lot of time can be saved from simply knowing which of several irrigators will finish next and when.”


Flood prevention works within an environmental habitat

As a water and land drainage management specialist, Fen Group was approached by a local Parish Council to help with flooding issues on the Dam Brook, which ran through a local housing estate. Here’s a brief run-down of how they managed the project.


On the company’s first visit, it was evident that several residential properties had been flooded on two previous occasions. After a site and environmental survey, several control measures were applied and a maintenance programme was produced that was tailored to the specific requirements. The issues addressed were embankment erosion at the toe, and collapse during periods of high flood water.

Despite being in the middle of a housing estate, the location had considerable wildlife habitats and this was fundamental when designing the works. The project approach was to eliminate the risk to properties, while enhancing the habitat at the same time.

The embankments in some areas were re-shaped and supported using wooden piles – this was carried out by placing coir rolls at the foot of the embankment, not only as a support but also to encourage the re-growth of vegetation and provide habitat for the water vole population.

The embankments had an erosion blanket installed to the high-risk areas, then the embankments were top soiled prior to seeding with a specialist mix.


Some areas of the Dam Brook were so badly eroded that, in the long term, they could have potentially caused subsidence to several nearby properties, so alternative measures had to be taken including installing gabion baskets to prevent further erosion. This was approached by cutting into the embankment to maintain the channel width and installing a new granite base, then installing gabion baskets together with an anti-erosion blanket. As a result, after heavy rainfall over the winter period,
this proved successful and stabilised the embankment in the areas of high risk.


Mole draining – bringing soil back to life

Soil has a vital and long-term impact on productivity, profitability and capital value of the land, and we need to make sure that we are protecting this important asset for the future generations as well as for now. With a move towards more sustainable farming and land management, drainage and mole draining in particular are important factors in improving soil structure and reducing soil erosion on heavy clay soils, especially after the extreme trauma that the land has been through in the last couple of years.

The Maidwell Moler working with press wheels fitted.

Mole draining can help bring the soil back to health, and this can be maintained by moling on a regular rotational basis.

The Maidwell Moler range is designed and built to an extremely high standard to keep going in trashy conditions, and machines do not block up like conventional beam molers. Hankins Engineering Ltd has over 35 years experience in the manufacture of mole drainers claims it knows what is needed to improve soil structure and produce a perfect mole. The Maidwell Moler range consists of robustly built single, twin and three leg machines, both mounted and trailed. These molers can withstand the largest hp tractors built today and are a life time purchase – the first Maidwell Moler built 37 years ago is still in work today. To prevent heaving problems, press wheels can be fitted to all types of machine.


New budget pump sets for drip irrigation

Greencrop has introduced a new range of budget irrigation pump sets, including economy diesel engines and irrigation pumps that will drive a single hose reel irrigator fitted with either a rain gun or boom, also for increased use of drip or tape irrigation, where existing pump sets on the market are over capacity for these applications.

The company offers two models, the GCEP51WIR and GCEP75WIR (pictured), both with bunded tanks and control panels as standard. The GCEP51WIR unit is powered by a water-cooled Perkins 404D22 (Tier 3) 51hp 4-cyl with a Rovatti F43K80-90/3E pump, which is ideal for running drip or tape irrigation while still being able to run one irrigator. Standard specification includes: Control box model Elcos CEM250 (standard control & protection); flow switch; manual priming pump; delivery butterfly valve; roof to protect the engine from rain; special bunded chassis with an internal capacity of 800 litres; lockable fuel cap; 11.5/80 wheels with mudguards.


The GCEP75WIR unit is powered by a water-cooled Iveco F32MNSX00.00 (Tier 3A) 75hp 4-cyl engine direct coupled to a Caprari MEC-MR 65-2/4A 1 centrifugal multiple-stage pump with horizontal shaft (Q: 64.67 m³/h H: 109m). Optional extras for both pump sets are: suction and delivery fittings; electric primer; acoustic lockable engine cabinet – 73db at 7m; and GSM control.

These new pumps stand alongside Greencrop’s renowned 125hp and 170hp main irrigation pump sets. The Iveco 4-cyl 125hp turbo engine unit has proven to be a popular choice with good engine torque and fuel efficiency.

The pump sets all have a complete, fully-covered acoustic cabinet with side-opening doors and a front storage compartment.


Easy installation weather station

The iMETOS LoRAIN is an easily deployed weather station, ideally suited to a busy crop manager. Combining a rain gauge along with temperature and humidity sensors, LoRAIN measures both rainfall and applied water, as well as monitoring the canopy climate for disease pressure. Easy access to your field data is really important, so LoRAIN reports to your tablet, smartphone and laptop though our web portal FieldClimate, as well as the John Deere Operations Centre.


iMetos claims that LoRAIN has significant advantages over alternative solutions. According to the company, the first is the simplicity of installation – with no batteries or SIM card to deal with, field installation only takes five minutes. The second is the way LoRAIN connects to the internet using a LoRaWAN network. LoRaWAN will be new to many growers, but essentially it is Long Range WiFi, enabling multiple LoRAIN devices to connect to the internet without SIM cards. Whilst growers can easily set up their own LoRaWAN network, Norfolk County Council is currently deploying a LoRaWAN network across their county, giving growers in this region free connectivity.


Perils of poor drainage maintenance

Miles Drainage Ltd contract manager, Andrew Wright, says signs of poor drainage maintenance have become more and more evident since the autumn rains started.

The problem could be as simple as a blocked drain, or a ditch that has not been cleaned out for a while. With fewer full-time farm staff and more acres to farm, ditch and drain maintenance can easily become overlooked.

For a drainage scheme to operate to its full potential, the outfalls need to be in good condition and have a suitable freeboard (the difference between the drain invert and the ditch bed). Drains which are hidden in the undergrowth need to be found, cleared and marked with a marker post, making them easier to locate.

Spring is also a good time to carry out drain jetting and it is never too early to start planning your mole draining, deciding whether it is to be undertaken through the growing crop, or after harvest.

Miles Drainage has the experience and availability to assist with all of the above, especially drain maintenance during the winter months. Based in East Anglia but operating nationwide, the company provides a GPS-based quality land drainage design and installation service. Miles Drainage also manufactures the Single Leg Mole Plough as well as supplying spares and wearing parts.


The role of irrigation in fighting climate change

Climate change will obviously have an impact on irrigation but conversely, irrigation also has a role to play in reducing the impacts of manmade climate change. Extreme weather, including longer dry periods and very heavy rainfall, mean water storage must be carefully managed and irrigation systems should be designed to make best use of stored water.

Unfortunately, for economic reasons, the drift towards more efficient irrigation techniques will continue to be slower than necessary unless incentives improve, believes Adrian Colwill, managing director of respected irrigation equipment manufacturer, Briggs Irrigation.


“One incentive may be lack of water. If there is not enough water, improvements to uniformity of application, droplet size, timing and irrigation infrastructure will become essential to make better use of the water that is available. But in practice, wholesale change is unlikely unless growers are influenced by incentives such as legislation and financial support. In many cases there are efficiencies that could be introduced with existing systems and machinery.”

In addition to improved application systems – such as use of irrigation booms in place of rainguns – developments in remote monitoring, analysis and management can improve efficiency. Modern digital control networks enable essential functions to be monitored and controlled from a mobile phone, tablet or PC. Briggs Irrigation is testing new ‘cloud based’ technology. In addition to remote control, the new systems integrate the management of pumps, hose reels and Briggs’ linear irrigation booms.


Reducing the risks of irrigation work

Do you ever consider the power of water pressure when you are irrigating? Have you ever had a hydrant top come off and had a near miss? Irrigation specialist Wroot Water says one of the hazards of working with water at high pressure is the damage it causes when a pipe bursts. There is also a risk of injury if the hydrant top becomes disconnected when you open a hydrant in a pressurised main line pipe.

The company says it is committed to prioritising safety and with this in mind, it has begun modifying hydrants by putting a lever valve in the riser that is between two flanges. This eliminates the need to be directly over the hydrant top when opening the hydrant, thereby reducing the risk of injury, the company says.


Wet autumn provides rapid payback on drainage investment

“Our investment in a new land drainage scheme has made the difference between getting our potato crop harvested and leaving it in the ground to rot.”  This observation was recently made by a farmer from Lincolnshire, who had invested in a comprehensive drainage scheme via William Morfoot Ltd in the same field in 2018.

Morfoot managing director, Tim Sisson, commented further: “We have had a number of farmers advising that recent investment in drainage schemes will pay back the investment in a single season based on the way that last autumn went. With the tight work windows and problematic soil conditions, there were limited opportunities to get on the land through the whole autumn period. Drainage investment has undoubtedly increased the size of work windows and delivered overall better soil recovery times than would otherwise have been present.”


Investing in drainage during a dry time allows farms to reap the rewards when the weather turns. As well as delivering significantly higher yields though enhanced soil structures, land drainage also improves the timeliness for key arable operations, for example allowing harvesting or drilling to continue more quickly when weather conditions improve – even in catchy weather windows.

Morfoot offers a comprehensive scheme design and installation service for new land drainage schemes. The company also provides ditch restoration and water course management services and operates across the whole of the UK.


Delivering irrigation water from just 4in deep

Riverscreen Filter is a rotating water-driven self-cleaning screen that reliably delivers irrigation water from as little as 4in deep, making it ideal for shallow water pumping. Available from Euromacchine – the official European distributor – Riverscreen is the ideal solution for operations in a reservoir, river or canal where weed or sand is a constant problem, the company says. The standard floating Riverscreen comes in five sizes, allowing flow rates from 40 –600m³/hr.

Standard on all Riverscreen models is #8 304 2.38mm stainless steel mesh. Other sizes are also available upon request including #10 2.00mm mesh, as required by some regulatory agencies to provide protection to marine life such as eels and fish. The optional 12 or 240V power drive unit keeps the drum turning in slow moving currents.

The filter can also be used in slurry or digestate lagoons, offering the livestock and agricultural industries a helpful solution when the separation of debris or solids contamination is required.

The product is also available as the Gravity Riverscreen filter – this version of the filter can incorporate an electric driven pump, making it the ideal piece of kit for abstraction from an irrigation reservoir.


Porous filler keeps filling time down

A porous filler designed by manufacturer Jones Engineering, which specialises in vegetable machinery, has been designed to carry up to 22t of gravel or stone, keeping the filling time down. Shod on 710mm wide tyres with a steering axle and wheel drive, it can travel in most places.

Stone or gravel is fed by the forward-tipping hopper to a belt that fills the trench, which is controlled from the cab by speed and/or a hydraulic door.


  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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