Continued lack of rain in East Coast areas is not ideal, but it does give farmers a great opportunity to check how evenly (or not) their irrigators are performing.
And they could end up getting more pasture for the same amount of water as a result.
That’s according to local pasture specialist Graham Kerr, who says there’s no hiding uneven water application in current dry conditions. A common sign is stripes of different coloured grass under irrigators.
“The stripes in the picture may not seem extreme, but the brighter green areas are probably growing two or three times as fast as the darker strips where plants are under moisture stress. When you see obvious differences in irrigated pastures like this, the difference in kg dry matter per ha grown is significant.”
Solutions to improve water application vary, but can be as simple as replacing worn nozzles or sprinklers for the cost of a few hundred dollars, says Kerr, who is pasture systems manager for Agriseeds.
“In this case you won’t use any more water, but you will apply it more efficiently, growing more pasture for the same amount of water and power which is a win:win situation.”
He encourages farmers to make use of the extended dry period to audit their irrigators, and says taking photos will help document any issues.
Lines of uneven watering showing as stripes under a pivot irrigator (marked in smaller insert).