10 January 2019, 11:20AM

Old Girl Still Young At Heart

An 18-year-old Valley irrigator, left idle in a paddock for more than a decade, has made an astonishing return to service.

Greg Ernst says Valley’s reputation for quality was one of factors that led him to purchase one of the company’s linear move irrigators in 2001 to help feed his head of dairy cattle near Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley.

But it is only in recent months that she has proven her true Valley grit and hardiness.
Greg put his irrigator to use for about six years before a major flood event – on the back of a failing dairy industry – saw the family walk away from the stresses of farming. They turned off the lateral move irrigator for the last time and there she stayed for 11 years, in the middle of the paddock, through a decade of hot summers and fierce thunderstorms, with no maintenance.

A few months ago Greg’s neighbours, Mick and Mel Hassett, asked whether he’d mind if they could grow a crop of corn for silage on his property, and use his old irrigator.

Greg admits he wasn’t sure whether the linear move would be any good to them but together they set about giving her the repairs necessary to get her going again.

They were surprised by how little they had to spend to get her back to working order.
They replaced a few broken sprinklers and all the plastic uni-joints that had perished in the hot conditions, tinkered with the Diesel motor and did a little bit of electrical work to repair the cables his cows had tugged on while in the paddock.

“We cranked her up and away she went,” says Greg.

“It was such a surprise - she gave us a lot less trouble than we were expecting.
“It is testament to Valley’s quality that a machine with so many components could sit there for 11 years and only need to have a minimum amount of dollars spent on it to get it up and running again.”

It came as a big sigh of relief because the contractors had been in and sown the corn earlier than expected.

The area is drought affected so the linear move is essential to the crop’s success. And, with the ground having been well-rested for a decade, expectations are high for a strong yield come harvest time early next year.

“Everything was counting on getting this machine to run and it didn’t let us down,” says Greg.
“I’m extremely happy, it was well worth the investment all those years ago.”

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