How using the sun saves on-farm water

By Rodney Woods

A TONGALA farming family is using the power of the sun to save water when irrigating its 62ha property.

Currently the Mackrell family uses a diesel pump and would use 500 Ml of water to flood irrigate the cropping property in its current state.

But the new system will see the use of 171 solar panels, producing 50 kW. This will cover the powering of an electric motor, which will be used to power a travelling irrigator.

To help it financially, the family received a rebate from greenbank environmental, an independent company, which purchased the small-scale technology certificates to calculate what the Mackrells would receive.

This was something Neville Mackrell said was the defining decision in going ahead with the new system.

‘‘It wouldn’t have been practical (without the rebate).’’

With the property on uneven ground, Mr Mackrell said this process would be more efficient and would be assisted by the use of a travelling irrigator.

‘‘Because the slopes are steep there are short bays which means a lot of work and a lot of water,’’ he said.

‘‘We will use this (the irrigator) on predominately sandy country to predominately grow lucerne.

‘‘We will use a spear point for this. We have a 390 Ml spear point licence and we have got access to the main channel as well.’’

Despite it saving water, Mr Mackrell said time-wise it would be similar to irrigating manually.

‘‘We believe it will take the same time as manual irrigation,’’ Mr Mackrell said.

‘‘It takes 20 minutes to change over between hydrants. You set the flows and speeds but every eight hours someone will need to attend to it.’’

In other news, a solar-diesel hybrid pumping system was switched on in Narromine, NSW, on September 21.

This project has seen solar pumping specialists ReAqua design and build a 500kW solar array and nearly a hectare of panels, to power a bore producing up to 15 Ml each day.