Don’t panic if water quality is an issue
A good irrigation system is an investment in any farm business and one that you expect to have a reasonable lifespan. But in some areas where bore or waste water is run through an irrigation system, it can rust out in as few years.
In the eyes of TEAM Irrigation Director Craig Chandler, that kind of life span simply isn’t acceptable for an irrigator.
“With bore water, we have seen irrigators show signs of rust in as little as 12 months,” Craig said. “But once we take water quality out of the equation, an irrigation system should last between 25 and 30 years.
“We take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen and take the time to recommend the right solution the first time around. But if damage has already been done, we can step in and offer an affordable solution if we get in early enough.”
Craig said water quality is the issue causing corrosion, rust or pinholes and expensive polyethylene lined irrigators are not the only solution.
“There are a number of options available from the outset when we know we are dealing with poor water quality, but we can also resurrect old irrigators and help farm operators gain a few more years of operation.”
The first step is to talk to TEAM Irrigation about the quality of the water if you have any concerns.
“We can send water samples away for thorough laboratory testing if we think that’s warranted, before we begin designing an irrigation system,” Craig said.
“But we also have the advantage of working in this industry in regional NSW and see and understand the issues and where poor water quality has been a problem in the past.”
For farm operators who have an existing system, Craig recommends they contact him as soon as they see evidence of rust or pinholes in the galvanised pipes of their centre pivot or lateral irrigator.
“Once there are holes in the steel pipework, it’s too late – at the first signs of rust, let us know so that we can find a solution.”
While polyethylene-lined pipes are expensive, they are not the only answer. Underslinging is a cheaper alternative at about $50 to $60 per metre.
“We hang polyethylene pipe underneath the irrigator or undersling with PVC and feed the water through that pipe,” Craig said. “Either way, the outcome is that the water runs through poly piping instead of through the irrigator itself. The irrigator simply becomes a base system and holds the piping in place.
“Water that can eat an irrigator out in three to five years can continue to run through the system for another 20 years using this method.”
White PVC pipe underslung on the main centre pivot structure to improve the life span of this irrigator. This property uses bore water and the tower legs show signs of iron oxide discolouration
This pivot is 11 years old and has always run off bore water. Twelve to eighteen months ago the pivot was showing signs of rust. To extend the life span of the pivot, White PVC pipe was installed underneath the main centre pivot pipe structure. The tower legs show signs of iron oxide discolouration from the use of bore water on this property.