Aquaduct NZ and its entrepreneurial founder Gerard van den Bosch took out the highly-sought-after 2014 IrrigationNZ Innovation Award at its biennial conference in Napier last night
Aquaduct’s entry (alongside associate company Bosch Irrigation Ltd) included its ground-breaking solution for the manufacture of irrigation pipe for Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s new 84km underground pipe network.
A factory to produce pipe on-site was created in a paddock within the scheme’s boundaries slashing welding requirements by 80% and reducing installation time and costs. The company supplied over 80km of pipe in sizes from 1.6m diameter to 200mm – in lengths up to 250 metres. The factory is New Zealand’s largest capacity plant pumping out 5800 tonnes of pipe in 60 days.
Other innovative aspects of Aquaduct’s involvement with Valetta included machinery designed and adapted specifically for the Canterbury Plain’s unique cobblestone conditions and vibrating technology which perfectly bedded the irrigation scheme’s pipe network greatly increasing its longevity.
Mr van den Bosch said the future of sustainable world development would rely on clean water and energy and Valetta’s piped gravity-fed irrigation scheme created and delivered efficient use of both.
“The main driver for the Valetta project was the desire to eliminate water loss and allow 37% more land to be irrigated from same quantity of water. The use of gravity to reduce pumping and save the farmers huge production costs was also a strong motivation. The lost economic potential from the open channels was an irresistible challenge and meeting the challenges required multifaceted innovations and efficiencies,” says Mr van den Bosch.
The judging panel of former IrrigationNZ CEO Terry Heiler, Magdy Mohssen, Andy McFarlane and Tony Devries said while the top four finalists were all of very high quality, Aquaduct’s win was a clear result based on its potential for large scale adoption with significant efficiency gains and a long life span.
IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Aquaduct deserved national recognition for setting the bar high for other irrigation schemes.
“The newly piped scheme which only opened last month provides better water allocation through the gravity-fed pressurised pumps which improves water efficiency and the amount of land that can be irrigated in this part of Mid Canterbury. What Aquaduct and Mr van den Bosch achieved was literally a world-first manufacturing pipe on-site. Their contributions to reduce the environmental footprint of the scheme can’t be overlooked either,” says Mr Curtis.
Aquaduct NZ beat off stiff competition from fellow finalists FieldNET and K-line G-Set to win the award. FieldNET have created new irrigation management technology which drastically reduce the use of water, time and labour when scheduling irrigation. FieldNET by Lindsay and FieldMAP Online give growers greater remote control over their entire irrigation operation, resulting in better use of resources and greater yields.
K-Line G-SET is a low maintenance irrigation system perfect for use on awkward-shaped terrain and steep hills as it offers more flexibility where terrain or field shape causes problems for traditional irrigation. Operating via a solar-powered battery system, the G-Set system sits just high enough above the ground for its sprinklers to work efficiently but low enough so stock don’t rub on it.
Highly commended this year was IQ-H2 for its pod irrigation system. Particularly useful for hill country use, this system is designed to apply the correct amount of water to the right areas on paddocks without run off. Taking into account soil moisture and evapo- transpiration rates, topography and environmental factors, the IQ-H2 system aims to reduce nutrient run off due to its more targeted application.
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