Precision VRI Helps New Zealand Grower Overcome Water Challenges
For James Bowen, farming generates a well-deserved sense of pride.
“I suppose at the end of the day you get quite a buzz – walking into the supermarket and knowing that you grew the spud that’s in that package of chips they’ve got,” he said. “You always have a sense of pride in what you’re doing and what you’re supplying, because it’s your name on the product you’re delivering.”
Bowen and his family own and operate Fallgate Farm – 1,500 hectares (3,706 acres) of land in South Canterbury, New Zealand, that produces combinable cereals, grass seed and potatoes. The family also owns Heartland Potato Chips, set up by Bowen’s dad, Raymond and his wife Adrienne ten years ago. That’s which is where most of the potatoes they grow are sent.
“It’s our product from start to finish,” he said. “It’s neat to be part of a family-owned business, because you know more about the techniques and you get more honest feedback.”
While it’s in a part of the country with good, free-draining soils and usually reliable rainfall, Bowen knows his operation isn’t bulletproof – particularly when it comes to water.
“We wouldn’t get our yields or the quality potato size we want without irrigation,” he said.
To help make the most of every available drop of water, the Bowens installed a Zimmatic® Precision Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) system.
“It’s quite valuable on this property, because we’ve got such variable soil – heavy ground to riverbed. Then, changing crops from potatoes to wheat and barley, you can set it up and it will irrigate where you want it to – not everywhere that people think it should be,” he said. “If you can utilize things better – especially when the water is becoming precious – you’ve got use it conservatively. VRI will help with that.”
“We’ll keep going with VRI to get better utilization out of the water. “I’ll also need another pivot at some stage, so I can get more production from the lighter ground,” he said. “I love farming, and I’ll be around for a while, hopefully. Every day is interesting. Every day is different. Every day is a challenge.”