22 July 2015, 12:00AM

An interview with Bob Johnson, Director TEAM Irrigation

During summer, our director and installation specialist, Bob Johnson loves to spend his weekends water skiing at Burrendong Dam. But, like many of our customers, Bob is a farmer and has crops that need irrigating in the warmer months.

“I can set my system on Friday night and go to the dam skiing for the weekend,” Bob said. “If something goes wrong, it will shut itself down.”

In his back-to-basics approach to farm management, Bob often recommends that operators stop and think about what they really need to irrigate efficiently, instead of trying to outdo their neighbours or keep up with the latest model systems they have seen online.
“The more technology you put in, the more exposed you are to breakdown,” Bob said. “It sounds good to have all the bells and whistles, but are you really going to use them?”

Most people only use a fraction of the functions on their wrist watch, camera, washing machine or dishwasher and it’s the same with irrigation systems – once you get started, you are more than likely going to choose the cycle or sequence that suits you best and use that same cycle every time you turn the machine on.

“We talk about the most important elements of any irrigation system being the green button and the red button,” Bob jokes.

“You can run a lot of equipment from your phone or computer and some property managers need to do that when they live hundreds of kilometres away from the paddocks they need to irrigate.

“But if you are operating an irrigation system from the comfort of your office or at the pub, you can’t see if there is a tractor parked in its path or if it has stopped moving for any reason.

“No system is fool proof and sometimes it pays to go back to basics.”

Our design team’s focus when they start planning any new project is to begin by asking the customer what they need to do; what they hope to achieve; and what future plans they have for developing their property or project.

“Systems that are designed overseas use the latest technology and it’s our job to recommend which of those options is best suited to each job, but to always take into consideration the local conditions, as well as each customer’s needs and level of ability as an operator,” Bob explained.

“With most Australian soil types, we don’t need variable rates of application when irrigating, so it really pays to stop and ask yourself ‘what do I really need’ and ‘what features am I likely to use’?”

“Basic systems can and do work and are often a lot cheaper in the long run.

“While I never recommend compromising on quality, I do suggest that people stop and ask themselves what changes they need to make to operate efficiently.

“Then it’s up to our design team to develop a system that can fill that brief and that the operator will be able to use with confidence.”