A new system to allow dairy effluent to be recycled and used to fertilise pasture has won the 2018 Irrigation Innovation Award.
The Vibra Screen by Rainer Irrigation removes effluent solids larger than 1mm, with the liquid able to be applied to pasture through centre pivot irrigators.
Effluent is applied to dairy pastures allowing farmers to reduce fertiliser application to those areas, but is most often applied through small travelling irrigators.
Applying effluent through centre pivot irrigators allows for a larger area to be covered and for more consistent application. Technology does exist currently allowing for effluent to be applied through centre pivot irrigators but it can be problematic as blockages often occur.
"We were getting frustrated with having to repair existing effluent separators that were not reliable and had high maintenance costs for clients," says Gavin Briggs of Rainer Irrigation.
Rainer decided to build their own product and aimed to develop a design which was reliable, easy to install and able to handle varying amounts of effluent. The Vibra Screen has taken over three years to develop. It has only six components, resulting in low maintenance and power costs.
"Our first production Vibra Screen has been operating for over 4,000 hours with no repairs being needed and the farmer is very happy with the results," says Mr Briggs.
The screen allows farms to reduce expenditure on fertiliser and also allows recycled water to be used for dairy shed wash down.
20 Vibra Screens are currently in operation on New Zealand farms, with Rainer Irrigation receiving interest in the product from across New Zealand.
14 applications were received for the Irrigation Innovation awards, with two other finalists named. The Waitaki Irrigators Collective were named as a finalist for their Be Water-Race Safe video for school children. Aqualinc were also finalists for their GeoRural GIS Database System.
The awards were organised by Irrigation NZ and sponsored by Southern Wide Real Estate who provided a prize of $2,500.