The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.
The Vibra Screen, made by Ashburton-based Rainer Irrigation, removes solids larger than 1mm, which makes effluent better suited to being sprayed on pastures by centre pivot irrigators.
Effluent is more often applied via small travelling irrigators because though centre pivots allow more consistent application on larger areas, blockages can be a problem.
“We were getting frustrated with having to repair existing effluent separators that were not reliable and had high maintenance costs for clients,” said Gavin Briggs of Rainer Irrigation.
Rainer decided to build its own product and aimed to develop a design that was reliable, easy to install and able to handle varying amounts of effluent.
The Vibra Screen has taken over three years to develop. It has only six components, resulting in low maintenance and power costs.
“Our first production Vibra Screen has been operating for over 4000 hours with no repairs being needed and the farmer is very happy with the results,” said Briggs.
The screen allows farms to reduce spending on fertiliser and also allows recycled water to be used for dairy shed wash-down.
20 Vibra Screens are already in operation on NZ farms. Peter Holmes has installed a Vibra Screen on his property near Lowcliffe, Mid-Canterbury, where he runs two dairy sheds milking 1550 cows.
“The system works pretty well. Being able to spread effluent through the pivots means it can be spread over a larger area and it’s a lot less staff time and hassle than the travelling irrigator system we used to use. Once it’s applied we get good grass growth,” he said.
The innovation award, sponsored by Southern Wide Real Estate with a prize of $2500, was announced at IrrigationNZ’s 2018 conference.
Other finalists included an animated video promoting safety awareness around irrigation races and other water bodies, aimed at school-age children and developed by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective.
The video has already been shown to 2000 children at 21 schools in North Otago and South Canterbury.
Another finalist was Aqualinc’s GeoRural GIS Database System, used by farmers and irrigation schemes for, e.g. developing and managing farm environment plans.