Ashburton’s Carrfields Irrigation company has won 2016’s IrrigationNZ Innovation Award in association with Aqualinc for its innovative irrigator stabiliser.
The award was presented last night at the industry body’s national conference which has attracted more than 400 people to Waitaki District this week.
The HydroFix Irrigator Stabiliser System consists of a series of inflatable water tanks connected to a pulley and counterweight systems along the length of an irrigator. On arrival of a major wind event, the turn of a tap fills the tanks with water and lowers them to the ground to secure the irrigator at the centre of each span. When the wind danger has passed, the water tanks can simply be drained and after this they will raise themselves to a ‘ready to activate; storage position in two stages, requiring minimal effort from the operator.
Independent judging panel convenor Terry Heiler says Carrfield’s HydroFix system was chosen because it held wide application for New Zealand’s irrigation market and was the result of solid research involving several parties.
The innovation originated from a request by clients of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) who asked for help following 2013’s galeforce wind event that damaged more than 800 irrigators across Canterbury. The loss of irrigation systems for several months caused major losses of production for farmers and the cost of repairs was estimated in the millions of dollars.
Assistance was sought from the University of Canterbury’s Mechanical Engineering Department for an engineering design to stabilise irrigators and a patented solution was developed by FAR and the university and licenced to Carrfields Irrigation for further development and commercialisation.
IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says HydroFix’s emergence reflected the innovative way irrigation companies were now responding to customer requests in collaboration with research partners.
“It shows the typical Kiwi no 8 wire ‘we can sort it’ attitude. We’re seeing more and more of this as irrigators look to improve their infrastructure for local conditions and risk-proof their operations. We’ve now got an industry that is making adaptations in New Zealand that will likely end up being snapped up by the multinationals for global use.”
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