NZ Irrigation – Part 4

When we reached the next farm couple of kilometres down from Mike’s property we immediately noticed the centre pivot on either side of the driveway. Manager Craig Wellington met us as we got off the bus and immediately blew us away with some incredible production statistics for the 1200ha property.

Each year they finish off 30,000 lambs and 1,000 Friesian bulls while also cropping a variety of high value crops on their 360ha of irrigated cultivation including tomatoes, sweet peas, maize and sweet corn. The tour was just blown away by those statistics and I think it just goes to show how productive New Zealand and Heretaunga Plain can be, along with how well it is managed by Craig.

As the tour group recovered from the shock of those statistics we ventured out into the field to look at one of the swing arm centre pivots. This type of centre pivot works in the same way as most other centre pivots, in that it followers a buried wire to find its way around the field. The main difference is that instead of it being one rigid structure the end section has the ability to bend or turn. The swing arm on the end of the pivot allows the centre pivot to get into the corners of a field and cover more area. This means that instead of getting the classic circle shaped field when using centre pivots you’ll get a rectangle with rounded corners, this allows Craig to use more of the field’s potential and have less wasted land. The other interesting feature of Craig’s centre pivot system was that if it breaks down the pivot would automatically call his mobile phone to let him know something was wrong.

Classic Centre Pivot (Taken near Inverell NSW)

Classic Centre Pivot (Taken near Inverell NSW)

Leaving the centre pivot we walked over to Craig’s dam via the main homestead’s extensive and impressive gardens. The garden just seemed to keep stretching on as we wound our way through it, the sheer variety and volume of plants was just staggering. We left the garden simply stunned by its sheer size and by the thought that there was just one gardener who was able to maintain all of it.

The Swing Arm Centre Pivot

The Swing Arm Centre Pivot

Craig’s dam wasn’t as big as his neighbours but his was built first and was one of the first properties in the area to have a dam constructed and shares a lot of similarities with Mike’s dam. The dam was built before Craig took over as manager and like Mike’s dam it was built out of a need to increase the farms water security to ensure the survival of their high value crops. Craig’s dam is also filled by water that is gravity fed along a channel from the nearby river. Unlike Mike’s dam Craig’s was built onto to side of a hill instead of between two spurs meaning it took more time and cost more to build with about 1km of wall needing to be constructed.  While Craig’s dam may be smaller than  his neighbours it is more than capable of meeting his irrigation needs and has been able to easily see them through their longest water ban so far.

Craig's Dam

Craig’s Dam

Leaving the dam we walked back via another part of the garden and boarded the bus for Napier, this trip had been an incredible experience and it was great to see how things were done across the ditch.

Flat out

I’ve been a bit delayed in writing NZ irrigation-part 3, holidays are over so I’m back at uni and studying leaving me with little spare time. Then the spare time I have is being taken up organising the East to West Postie Ride for Farmers.

What’s that? You say, Well…….

Myself and my friend James Mackenzie are riding our postie bikes from Moree NSW to Broome in WA via the Plenty Hwy and Tanami Track, leaving Moree on the 16th of June and reach Broome in just seven days. We hope to raise $10000 for Aussie Helpers to support their great work.
For more information go to and to donate go to our Everyday Hero page


Getting Home

I’ve made it back in near record time travelling the 3000km in under 46 hours, the trip took me through a wide range of terrain from the thick hedge wood around Daly Waters to the low scrub of the Barkly(were fires still burned amongst all the storms) and the open nothingness of Queensland channel country, fortunately the kangaroos weren’t too bad with Mitchell to St George being the only bad section (it took me three hours to travel that stretch I guess its a record of sorts).  I think it’d be better to take the trip slower over about a week so I’d have more time to check out the sights such as the QANTAS Museum, Stockman’s Hall Of Fame and the many pubs along the way such as Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay.

After arriving home it was a quick trip down the coast for Christmas I’m back in Moree and starting work again irrigating on a cotton farm just outside of town, first shift is New Years Eve night. The blog will soon be redesigned to make it more relevant to life on a cotton farm but information from life at the station will still be available.

So stay tuned

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Gone Fishing

Its been a great weekend fishing on Victoria River at Timber Creek, we didn’t catch a lot just a couple of catfish and a crab but it was still good to get out in boat and off the station for a short while. Timber Creek is a great fishing spot but can require local knowledge to navigate the channels and avoid the rocks, unfortunately you can’t swim in the river due to large number of crocodile but they can make for a great photo.

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A Good Weekend and Another Week Begins

It was a great weekend down at Tennant Creek watching the camp draft and the rodeo,with the exception of a wallaby that decided to headbutt the side of my ute one hundred meters from the homestead.  But its back to work today checking the bores and making more progress with the old outstation, we’ve been able to free up the steel and push it into the tip by pulling it out piece by piece with a chain and the loader, hopefully we’ll finish it off for good tomorrow.

Loader and Lick

A cool change has brought dark clouds and a cool easterly breeze but still no sign of more rain, the breeze is helped to make this morning’s lick run easier as they had to be loaded and unloaded manually. The rest of the day was spent working on the old tip to try increase its size to deal with the all the waste of the old yards and outstation. 

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Cleaning Up

Before starting second round we were pulling down an old set of yards and outstation that had been condemned, unfortunately there was more waste than the tip could handle so I’ve been spending the last two days digging a new and bigger tip. Who ever said go hard or go home must of never operated a loader as I found out when I managed to bend the two front arms . Two tons of lick had to be put out at feeder to supplement there regular feed, the cattle are plowing through it leaving us struggling to keep up. 

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Another Week Begins

Its another week on Humbert River Station with the kicking off with a quick day trip (850km return) to town yesterday, to pick up supplies. While today was spent sorting out supplies, checking more fences and feeding the cattle in the yards. With the loader broken this has become a difficult task requiring the 500kg rectangle to be rolled onto a ute and driven to the yards. The temperature is continuing to rise with 38 degrees today and a predicted 40 degrees later in the week, at the station dogs know how to keep cool. 

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One of Those Days

Its been one of those days were nothing seems to right, the truck was meant to leave this morning carrying a ute to the mechanics but it made it less then one kilometer before it broke down itself. The loader wouldn’t start so we couldn’t put out the cattle lick and I went out to replace a float valve on a trough only to have to the wrong the size float. Fortunately the potty calves have settled in and are feeding well, we’ve also had a lot of whirly winds picking up the ash from the fires creating these black pillars towering a hundred feet above the ground.

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