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Irrigation Event Needs More ‘Owner Operator’ Support

Irrigation Event Needs More ‘Owner Operator’ Irrigator Support

The irrigation industry is rapidly moving away from a ‘No 8 wire mentality’ as next week’s Great Irrigation Challenge in Ashburton will demonstrate, says IrrigationNZ – but more ‘owner operator’ irrigators need to rise to the challenge.

On May 23 and 24 at Ashburton Racecourse, IrrigationNZ, with the support of principal sponsor Aqualinc, will host a series of hands-on workshops aimed at up-skilling and professionalising both irrigators and their support industries.

While more than 100 irrigators, irrigation scheme representatives and industry advisors from across New Zealand have signed up, IrrigationNZ wants to see more ‘owner-operator’ irrigators attend.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says the workshops cover all of the operational challenges owner-operator irrigators face and are practically focused.

“Each workshop will provide irrigators with useful, hands-on information that they can take away tomorrow and improve practice on the farm. You can come along to one workshop or four from the eight on offer. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for irrigators to access the expertise and advice they need.”

External speakers include engineering, pump and design experts, HR/ Health and Safety advisors, a Contracts lawyer and water metering and data consultants. IrrigationNZ staff will offer workshops covering Irrigation Design Reports, Operation Manuals, As-Built Plans and Communication/Social Media.

One of the event stream sponsors, Graham Turley, ANZ's Managing Director, Commercial and Agri, says "As global demand for agricultural products rises, irrigation will be an increasingly important part of the infrastructure we need to unlock growth in New Zealand's exports.  

 "ANZ's support for the Great Irrigation Challenge reflects our commitment to agriculture in Canterbury and across New Zealand. We're keen to work with councils and other stakeholders to support off-farm investment needed to make regional irrigation schemes a reality, as well as helping farmers capture the opportunities with capital for on-farm investment. In the Ashburton area alone we bank two irrigation schemes and around half of the region's farmers.

"The Great Irrigation Challenge will be a key forum bringing together people from across farming and irrigation to explore the solutions, share knowledge and build the expertise to successfully manage water for the future."

Another event stream sponsor, Judith Earl-Goulet, Environment Canterbury’s Extension Services Manager, says the regional council is keen to support and encourage service providers as they are providing quality advice on industry good practice to irrigators.

“We are also encouraging a culture of continuous improvement in water efficiency. This will help reduce on-farm costs, lowers the risks of excessive nutrient leaching, and potentially provides more water for the environment or for other users.

“The council is also keen to see farmers work collectively to find ways to better manage water use and nutrient effects.

“Events such as the Great Irrigation Challenge are very valuable as they allow farmers to hear about the latest ideas and tips, get practical advice on how to better manage increasingly complex machinery and systems, as well as networking with others facing similar issues.”

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says irrigators today face a wide range of operational challenges.

“It’s not enough anymore when irrigating to rely on a ‘No 8 wire mentality’. Irrigators now need understand their legal and compliance responsibilities and manage a huge amount of data and new technology. The Great Irrigation Challenge is one of a number of initiatives IrrigationNZ is undertaking to encourage greater professionalism in our industry.”  


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